LUBBOCK, Texas– Texas state representatives, Lubbock city leaders and local businesses have all voiced concerns after Oklahoma University and the University of Texas announced their plan to leave the Big 12 Conference in the next few years.
The rivalry between Texas and Texas Tech has been a tradition for years and a huge driver in Lubbock’s economy.
“Texas was one of our biggest money makers for the big rivalry,” said former Red Raider football player Lonzell Gilmore. “So for my own program, I’m very sad about it.”
“They are our biggest employer. They are a big part of the folks who travel here,” Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said of Texas Tech. “We are trying to protect Texas Tech and when we do that, protect Lubbock and maybe more importantly we protect small businesses.”
Local businesses like Red Raider Outfitters have profited off of these home game weekends since it opened up 46 years ago.
“We’ve seen more fans on a Saturday than any business in the city, so obviously it’s a bit concerning,” said owner Stephen Speigelberg. “Watching things take place, watching how much our administration is in control on the subject gives us a lot of confidence.”
On Monday, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick announced his establishment of the Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas. It’s a group of Texas House Representatives and Senators set to discuss the economic impact of this transition and ways to keep both the tradition and history alive.
Even with Texas out of the Big 12, Gilmore hopes a big-name Texas school will continue coming to Lubbock.
“I think they’ll make it where we play at least one Texas school like A&M or UT and alternate it each year,” said Gilmore. “I think that’d be pretty cool if they made that an official type deal.”