A year ago the Big 12 was on the brink of extinction.
Twelve months later, the conference not only is surviving it's flourishing.
Bolstered by a $1.17 billion, 13-year football contract signed this spring with Fox, the conference discovered it still attracts big bucks.
With two less teams receiving a portion and a new revenue sharing plan that more equally divides television money, the remaining 10 schools are more unified than at any point since the Big Eight joined four Southwest Conference schools 15 years ago.
"We're focusing on the things that matter most," said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. "More than anything what will help us as we move forward is we'll be talking about our teams on the field instead of whether or not we're staying together."
At last week's annual meetings Big 12 members agreed to rewrite the bylaws.
Conference generated revenue from tier one appearances on national TV will be distributed 76 percent equally compared to 57 percent in past years.
The remaining 24 percent provides incentive for teams that schedule attractive non-conference games to keep revenue from marquee non-league games.
Additional money will be allocated for schools that move games to accommodate television and might suffer at the gate because of it.
Money from the new Fox deal will be distributed 100 percent equally.
"This is a very positive step and bodes well for the future of the conference," said Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder.
The Fox contract reportedly is worth around $90 million a year, $1.17 billion total by the time it expires in 2025.
Broken down, each school should see an increase of about $5.2 million a year.
"This helps our whole conference which helps us," Castiglione said. "It strengthens our league. We've shared almost everything else equally since the conference's inception. People think all our revenue sharing is disproportionate. It's not. It was (only) the television appearance pool."
Though the new Fox football contract begins next year, Big 12 schools were given "significant consideration" for the upcoming year, essentially a signing bonus.
"It should have an immediate impact on our ability to fund our department," Holder said. "However, many of our expenses have increased with the additional revenue. You won't see major changes in our operation in 2011-2012.
"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."