AUSTIN, Texas – Looking for the savior of the Big 12? Follow the money.
Assurances that the big television money will soon be coming to the leaner Big 12 pulled the conference back from the dead, officials with schools and the conference said Tuesday.
With Colorado (Pac-10) and Nebraska (Big Ten) leaving in the next two years and the Pac-10 making a hard sell to Texas and four other schools to join them, the promises – not guarantees – of bigger checks in the future finally persuaded the Longhorns and the others to stay put.
“We’ve decided the Big 12 provides the best long-term opportunity for our university,” Texas president William Powers Jr. said Tuesday.
According IRS tax records examined by the Associated Press, the Big 12 paid out between $8.7 million to $15.4 million per school in 2008-09, with Kansas State getting the smallest payout and Oklahoma the biggest. The Big 12’s television deal with Fox expires in 2012 and a more lucrative contract with ESPN runs through the 2015-2016 academic year.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said no new TV deals have been struck, but he has “extremely strong verification, based on our analysis with our consultants and others, and media companies themselves, that we are in a tremendous position to execute future agreements that will put our member institutions on par with any in the country.” He did not provide any numbers during a conference call with reporters.
Texas, already the richest and most powerful of the Big 12 schools, is convinced it can make even more money in a 10-team conference.
“The Big 12 (television) package is going to be every bit as good as any other conference,” Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said. “We are in good shape on the television side.”
By staying in the Big 12, Texas can explore whether it should start its own Longhorns TV network. If it had moved to the Pac-10, Texas would have had to surrender its media rights.
Some of the conference’s smaller schools are giving up cash for the promise of keeping the conference together and more money later.
Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri – who were in danger of being left homeless if the conference dissolved – agreed to give up their share in buyout penalties to be paid by Nebraska and Colorado for leaving the conference, Beebe said.
The idea is to have that money go to Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, the schools the Big 12 needed to stay to remain viable, to make up for the difference in revenue those three might have made going elsewhere.
The amount of the penalties has not been disclosed, the Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed his school’s penalty for leaving the Big 12 “could be” around $9 million.
Missouri officials said they have not agreed to give up their share of the buyout penalties.