It sure reads like he did. Here's the quote from Matt Baty, the senior A.D. for Fundraising at Kansas. Listen to this podcast at about the 33-minute mark:
The money quote at precisely 36:08:
“We have conference realignment coming up. We have to show that we care about football. We have to show that we have the resources. We have to show that we have the winning product on the field...”
Full disclosure: This podcast is dated to December 12, 2017, but h/t @RedditCFB, where we first saw it, and our own Derek Warden, who found it:
#RockChalk senior AD for fundraising Matt Baty fears a lack of donations could create the impression KU doesn't "care about football." No relation to KU HC David Beatty, who has won 1 FBS game in 3 years. https://t.co/b4RLWsvGi8 pic.twitter.com/Uyf28D6StA— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) May 3, 2018
Now, before you flip out and say this is old news, or at the very least a dull confirmation of something that's inevitable, let's really examine what's happening here.
Matt Baty is a former Kansas baseball player who now works for his alma mater. His bio says he "returned to his alma mater in August of 2016 to lead KU's Williams Fund, Marketing & Sales efforts." So this is a guy who would be in the know about future things KU's administration is preparing for on at least a 5-10 year timetable.
We also know that the main project he's working on is a massive capital campaign called Raise the Chant, aimed at improving KU's athletics facilities. $300+ million of that is going toward KU's football stadium, plus another $26 million toward an indoor practice facility for the Jayhawks (construction just got underway).
So he's in a position to know things.
We also know that the Big XII publicly shut the door on realignment the last time they flirted with UCF et. al. So maybe this guy is wrong. But why would he haphazardly drop that in on a podcast as though it's a given?
Well, that might be because it is a given.
With the pending Disney/Fox deal changing the status quo for media rights in college sports, things are starting to heat up. And Kansas, who has long been the choking dog of Big 12 football, is feeling that heat.
Now this raises more questions than it answers, like:
- What's the timetable?
- Is something coming down the line before 2024-25?
- Why is Kansas in such a rush to do all of this?
- Is the reason they're in a rush that they think they might be left out of the party if the Big XII implodes?
- What makes Kansas think this is inevitable?
I don't have the answers to those questions. The only people who might are above Matt Baty's pay grade, and even they won't divulge anything, even by accident.
But my uninformed speculation is this: Kansas is in a vulnerable position, and its administration knows it. So it is racing to get its football program up to snuff facility-wise to solidify its position before the next round of realignment, which might see the end of the Big XII altogether, and thus ascribe Kansas to the same no man's land that UConn inhabits: A power league school with a great basketball program but no hope of success in football.
UCF has lapped KU - and several other schools in KU's position - in facilities. So that's why UCF's capital campaign is so critical right now. It's UCF's intention to prove that it is better for a major conference to bring UCF on board from outside than keep a program like Kansas on the inside.