Poll Says Fans Prefer Regional Conferences and Traditional Rivalries

KRC Survey Says Fans Want Open Discussion of Conference Realignment

Sep 19, 2011, 12:23 ET from KRC Research

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Three-quarters (76%) of college football fans say they would be disappointed with the creation of super conferences that would eliminate historical regional conference rivalries, according to a poll released today.  The poll also indicated a strong belief that decision-making regarding conference realignment should be conducted with transparency and public input.

The survey, conducted among college graduates within Big 12 member states over the weekend by KRC Research of Washington, D.C. and commissioned by Baylor University, found strong support for the existing college athletic conference alignment.  Seventy-seven percent of respondents said schools should "fight to preserve the original intent of collegiate athletics as part of the student experience" while only 19 percent said the commercialization of college sports is inevitable and should be accepted.

"Baylor has consistently argued that decisions regarding conference realignment are too important to be determined by small groups meeting behind closed doors," said John M. Barry, Baylor University's Vice President for Marketing and Communications. "In order to create an opportunity for college football fans and other citizens to contribute to discussions concerning conference realignment, and its impact on American higher education, we commissioned this scientific survey among a representative sample of citizens in all the Big 12 states.

"We believe strongly that taxpayers, elected officials, university alumni and others ought to have the opportunity to contribute to the on-going dialogue regarding so-called 'super conferences.' The educational, financial, and other consequences of these decisions will have lasting impact on American colleges and universities, and the populations they serve. The public has a right to participate in a conversation of such importance."

Given the choice between "a small number of super conferences that are formed irrespective of geography" and current conference alignments that support regional competition, 75 percent of those surveyed, and 80 percent of college football fans, support the current system.

Four out of ten (39%) believe that sports television networks, such as ESPN/ABC, Fox Sports, CBS, etc, currently have the most influence when it comes to collegiate athletics today, followed by University/College Board members (11%) and The NCAA (11%).  Respondents who consider themselves to be avid fans are even more likely to cite sports networks as having the most influence (45%). However, when respondents were asked who should have the most influence over college athletics, only two percent believe that sports television networks should have the most influence over college athletics today.

Majorities (64%) of those surveyed expressed disappointment at the prospect of the elimination of historic football rivalries, including 76% of college football fans and 84% of those who consider themselves to be avid fans.  Seventy-two percent agree that public decision-making regarding conference alignment should be discussed publically to ensure appropriate input from all taxpayers,.  Ninety percent of respondents said college boards of directors should balance the needs of their schools' athletic and academic programs.

Less than four out of ten (37%) respondents, believed that the current discussions regarding conference affiliation have been "honorable and transparent."

The complete poll results are available at www.baylor.edu/survey.


The survey was conducted by KRC Research, an independent market/communications research firm headquarted in Washington DC.  The survey was fielded September 16 to 18, 2011. The survey included responses from 1,500 college graduates with Big 12 states – 300 each within Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and Iowa. Within the total sample, 1,100 respondents identified themselves as college football fans. The margin of error for the total sample surveyed is N=1,500 +/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level.  The margin of error for the 1,100 college football fans +/- 3%.  The margin of error for each of the five states would be N=300 +/- 5.7%.