How sharing revenue help bring the Big 12 back from the brink

At this time last year, the headline in The Oklahoman read “Rest in Pieces.” The lure of Pac-10 Conference and bigger revenues was calling Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. But the Big 12 Conference found the money and motivation to write quite a comeback story.
By MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Published: June 10, 2011
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"The potential for revenue growth will come when tier one (over-the-air network) television rights are up for negotiation in four years."

The conference has four years remaining on its tier one deal with ABC and ESPN which generates a reported $130 million annually.

Based on recent TV contracts, the Big 12's new deal in 2015 could triple in value, possibly landing a 10-year $2 billion deal.

Additional good news is the conference's football television exposure will surpass any other league in the country. Two new slots — one game on FX, another on the newly formed Fox College Sports — provide ample opportunities for televised games.

"Theoretically it makes it possible for all 10 conference teams to virtually be on every Saturday," Castiglione said. "During the conference season there's a good chance every game will be selected by one television partner or the other. And most of the non-conference games will be televised."

Bottom line is Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said most schools could approach $20 million from annual TV distributions once the Fox contract continues.

That will be more than double the TV money for some Big 12 members.

In 2009, Oklahoma received $12.2 million in conference generated revenue. Kansas State, at the bottom of the conference, received $8.4 million.

Under the new bylaws — distributing 76 percent equally — the gap will lessen.

"There is a strong unity and solidarity moving forward," said Big 12 associate commissioner Bob Burda. "Our member institutions are united in their belief that the best days lie ahead for the Big 12 Conference. It's galvanized the membership."

A year after Texas, Oklahoma and other schools appeared headed to the Pac 10, a year after Nebraska joined the Big Ten and Colorado joined the Pac 10, the new look Big 12 is financially strong.

The conference also can sell itself as the only BCS conference that features round-robin schedule where everyone plays everyone, including home-and-home basketball series.

"The future has never been brighter," Holder said. "Our ability to crown true championship teams that have played every conference member in all the sports is significant."

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