By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.orgBig12Sports.com CorrespondentIRVING, Texas –
The Big 12 Conference wrapped up its annual spring meetings Friday with news that underlines the strength and viability of the league.
The board of directors ended the three-day get together Friday morning by announcing record earnings. The Conference will divide $198 million, up from last year's $187 million.
According to commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the record revenue is just starting.
"We'll get a pretty significant ramp up," he said. "Over the life of our television and other deals, the per-school distribution could move into the $30 million to $40 million range."
Most of the money comes from television revenue, the men's NCAA basketball tournament and bowl games.
Bowlsby also pointed out that, unlike other conferences, the Big 12 revenue doesn't include money from third tier rights. That is controlled by member institutions.
Speaking to a group of media, Texas president William Powers addressed the revenue distribution: "We're happy. And it's all shared equally. The rising tide helps everyone."
Kansas State president Kirk Schulz sent out this Tweet: "We just concluded 3 days of excellent Big 12 Conference meetings - I have never seen us so unified and focused on a bright future!"
Bowlsby, who has been the commissioner for just over a year, agrees with the assessments. Significant increases in revenue along with realignment issues resolved has put the Big 12 into a good place.
"I think our league is rock solid," he said. "We've done everything we can in the near term and long term to have this league intact through perpetuity. … Until we get to the point where some of these television contracts will expire, I don't see much happening in terms of conference realignment.
"I think we've made real progress. Everybody said this was the best set of meetings we've had. We're like minded and moving in a shared direction."Eighth Official Experiment Approved
The Big 12 has approved and received permission from the NCAA to experiment adding an eighth on-field official for football games this season. The extra official will be located in the offensive backfield opposite the referee. His main duty will be helping spot the football.
Big 12 coordinator of football officiating Walt Anderson has noted how college teams are playing at a faster pace on offense. That has put an extra burden on the officials to get the ball spotted and ready for the next play. Conference coaches are supportive of the experiment.
"Most people think our officials are as good as any in the country, and Walt is a seasoned and successful coordinator and an innovative guy," Bowlsby said. "I think that's why [the national coordinator and other league coordinators] thought the Big 12 was a pretty good place to try it out." Future Women's Basketball Sites
The Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship will take place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas in 2015 and at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City in 2016. That's also the year that the Men's Championship deal with Kansas City and Sprint Center expires.
Last year was the first time that the men's and women's tournaments were held in separate locations on different dates. For 2015 and 2016, that is expected to continue.
"Between now and 2016 we'll sit down and decide if we want to have the tournament back together as it used to be, different sites different weeks or same site, different weeks," Bowlsby said. "There are different combinations and we'll make decisions over the next couple of years. We're happy to have two quality sites for the women, places we've been to before."Playoff Committee Update
The final piece for the College Football Playoff that starts in 2014 is deciding on who will serve on the selection committee. Conferences were asked to submit a list of candidates this week. Bowlsby said he whittled an initial list of 40 names to the required 15.
"It sounds like a lot of the same people are going to be on everybody's list," said Bowlsby, who was a member of the NCAA men's basketball tournament committee. The commissioners won't be submitting a candidate to represent their respective conferences on the committee, instead agreeing that the committee should be comprised of "the people of highest ability and highest integrity."
The playoff committee is expected to be a group of between 12 and 20 selectors. Bowlsby said he expects an announcement to come in about three months.Bowl Agreements Update
The 2013 football season will be the end of contractual agreements between the Big 12 and its current bowl partners. Bowlsby said the Conference has agreements in principle with a number of bowls starting in 2014 but the league is not ready to announce any deals.
"We still have some negotiating to finish in terms of finances, number of tickets, those types of things," Bowlsby said. "Some of these bowls have television deals that have just one or two years left so there is some negotiating to be done there.
"We feel good about the lineup. We want to be out west, we want to be anchored in Dallas, we want a game in Florida and we want some games we can drive to. I think we'll meet all of those objectives when we're finished."