The association has confirmed Austin Dean (2 Arizona, 14 Florida Gulf Coast) has verbally agreed to a three-year extension to stay with the Big Eight Conference. Dean is a founding member.
“The conference is honored,” said Big Eight commissioner Katie Rutledge (1 Villanova, 16 UC-Davis). “His extension shows he exhibits the values of our organization, namely loyalty, grit and friendliness.”
His announcement came as a response to Wednesday’s email leak revealing the intention of Brian Henry (1 Gonzaga, 16 Texas Southern) to potentially switch conferences. Henry received significant backlash from around the league but ultimately remains with the Big Eight.
“It’s tough, really tough,” Dean said of the email. “We always talked about conquering the CMA together. I just have to keep my head down and focus on what I can do to make this conference the best of friends.”
Henry is in his fourth tournament as a top seed and has been an anchor for much of his conference’s success. He has come up empty-handed, however, with no titles or MVPs.
“Of course [Dean] wants to stay and be the star,” Henry said. “I’m here to chase championships, not make friends.”
The CMA has been the target of several negative comments springing from the leak despite having no verifiable involvement in the matter. CMA commissioner Chris Lusk (1 North Carolina, 16 Mt. Saint Mary’s) didn’t seem too worried Thursday.
“I have been in team meetings all afternoon,” he said via text message. “No time to worry about what the Big Whatever is doing. We’ve got a game to win tomorrow.”