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Berry Tramel: Revenue-sharing inequity helps keep Texas in Big 12

by Berry Tramel Published: February 22, 2010
The Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference share revenues equally among their schools. The Big 12 does not.

Some Big 12 members think it’s unfair. But now we see the policy paying off for the conference. The inequity helps keep Texas in the league.

As conference realignment again bubbles, with talk of the Pac-10 and Big Ten wanting the Longhorns, the Big 12’s policy of rewarding the more popular schools will remind UT of how it has prospered in the Big 12.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said the Big 12’s system is a recognition of "what schools that have success have meant to the league.”

Basically, the Big 12’s formula for distributing its football television revenue is: 50 percent divided equally among the schools, the other 50 percent based on appearances.

Which means Texas, OU and Nebraska will reap more than Baylor or Iowa State. In 2008, the difference between the largest payout (Texas) and the smallest payout (Baylor) was approximately $2.7 million.

That might seem grievous, considering the economic prosperity of leagues that share media revenues equally (SEC, Big Ten, National Football League). But the current system was necessary to formation of the Big 12 in the mid-’90s.

"It’s the foundation upon which the conference was formed,” said UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds. "It’s not something going to be changed easily.”

Changing would require a vote of 9-3, and while the topic pops up every few years, a Big 12 school would be foolish to vote for change and risk losing Texas to another conference. Change it now, and the Longhorns might scram before sundown.

When the Big 12 was formed, "Texas had options,” said then-OU athletic director Donnie Duncan, who with Dodds put the league together. "Those options haven’t changed.”

Three athletic directors remain from the Big 12’s original list of leadership, and only Dodds is at the same school. Castiglione has jumped from Missouri to OU, and Bill Byrne has gone from Nebraska to Texas A&M.

Some of the newer ADs — Missouri’s Mike Alden and Oklahoma State’s Mike Holder among them — favor equal shares.

Alden said that with the rise of Mizzou football, his school actually has benefitted from the current policy the last three or four years.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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