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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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.

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