A couple weeks back we told you about our Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC) Records; over 300 boxes of material documenting that organization’s more than 80 year existence. After the SWC disbanded in 1996, many of its schools moved on to other conferences, the largest of which was the newly-created Big 12 Conference. The Southwest Collection is also proud to make its records available to our patrons. These two collections dovetail with our National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Records, which date from the 1930s until the late 1990s, to provide a thorough picture of collegiate athletics in Texas and its neighboring states for nearly 100 years.
Why did the SWC disband? Most would agree that money was a leading factor. A new conference such as the Big 12 would give the new members more media coverage and therefore more revenue for their individual schools. Another theory claims that politicians had a role in its breakup by pressuring schools, other politicians, and university representatives to consider a new outlook for collegiate sports in Texas and neighboring states. Either way, four SWC schools, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, and Baylor University, united with the Big Eight Conference to create the Big 12. The legacy of the Southwest Athletic Conference remained tangible in the many rivalries that persist to this day in the Big 12 in all sports.
The collections of records reflect this in numerous ways. For example, some material pertains to the annual October football match-up during the Texas State Fair between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The Big 12’s records include a large number of member universities’ media guides, as well as Conference-wide media guides. The media guides cover baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, and volleyball. The Big 12 continues to deposit media guides and other publications with the Southwest Collection. Office files and printed materials promoting the Big 12, such as handbooks and directories, are also present.
The NCAA itself, of which the Southwest Conference was a member and to which the Big 12 still belongs, needs little introduction. It monitors athletic programs from virtually all collegiate athletic programs. Among other things, they assess schools’ compliance with academic regulations; student and media relations; and recruiting, sports, officiating, and championship regulations. Our collection of their records consists of a variety of material. Manuals, convention programs and artifacts, annual reports, yearbooks, directories, periodicals, and committee handbooks are the most common items. Perhaps most interesting are the historic and descriptive documents, studies, surveys, and analyses that relate to the NCAA’s oversight of recruiting, compliance, student athletes, faculty members, and media relations. Finally, there are a number items to championships in all sports, as well more general documentation related to baseball, basketball, football, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.
– Robert Weaver
– Photos by John Perrin