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Beyond the Fort: A new arena for Baylor and the rise of Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt

Let’s talk about money, shall we?

Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt - News Conference Photo by John Weast/Getty Images

While recruiting has been heating up around TCU football this week — followed by the report that former Lake Travis High School 4-star quarterback Matthew Baldwin is taking his talents from Columbus to Fort Worth — money has been the theme elsewhere in the Big 12.

Well, Baylor and Texas Tech, to be exact.

Let’s get you up to date on some of the latest developments as it pertains to the Horned Frogs’ in-state Big 12 counterparts.

Baylor gaining momentum toward new arena

If you were tired of Floyd Casey Stadium, you got your wish after the 2013 season when the Bears ventured to the modern marvel — complete with brick walls that surely aren’t facades or anything — that is McLane Stadium. And in due time, Ferrell Center will be a thing of the past for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, if this week’s news means anything.

Baylor announced Tuesday that a lead gift had been received for the Baylor Basketball Pavilion, a $105 million project that will provide a new home for the Bears and Lady Bears along the south bank of the Brazos River. Exact figures for the gift were not announced, but Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades told The Dallas Morning News that roughly $30 million is left to to be raised for the arena, putting the gift in the ballpark of $75 million.

Should the project go according to plan, construction will begin in Summer 2020. An tentative completion date has yet to be announced for the venue that will seat between 7,000-7,500 fans. Baylor’s basketball programs have called Ferrell Center, which seats just more than 10,000 fans, home since 1988.

Hocutt signs extension through 2027

As it turns out, having your men’s basketball team reach the NCAA national championship game — even en route to a loss — can do wonders for an athletic program. Last month, head coach Chris Beard was awarded a new contract to keep him in Lubbock through the 2024-25 season, making him one of the highest paid coaches in the nation. Now, it’s his boss’s turn to celebrate.

Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt followed suit by signing a six-year contract extension on Monday, making him the highest paid athletic director in the Big 12 Conference and among the top five highest paid in the country. With a $1.5 million increase in compensation annually, Hocutt’s contract is now worth approximately $13.3 million.

Make no mistake about it: The timing of his contract extension is no coincidence, considering the heights that Texas Tech men’s basketball has risen to since hiring Beard several years ago. Factor in the success of baseball, which has reached the College World Series three times since 2014, and the extension is more than deserved. The biggest question mark now is whether or not football can experience a revival under head coach Matt Wells, who enters his first season in Lubbock this fall after replacing Kliff Kingsbury.

Regardless, it’s not a bad time to be a fan of the Red Raiders, and the former CFP selection committee chairman has a thing or two do to with that.