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A Year Later, Big 12 Is Stronger Than Ever
September 07, 2012
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

Time has a way with irony. A year ago, the Big 12 was fractured to the point that its future was in serious doubt. Texas A&M was headed to the Southeastern Conference (with Missouri soon to follow) and the Pacific-12 Conference was courting Texas and Oklahoma. If the Pac-12's desire to reach 16 teams became reality, the Big 12 was headed to its grave.

Friday, a day before Texas A&M and Missouri play their first SEC games, the Big 12 board of directors announced it had approved a 13-year television agreement with ABC/ESPN and FOX. In addition to the TV contract, the Big 12 board of directors announced the 10 member schools have agreed to extend the grant of rights from six years to 13 years.

The grant of rights means that if a Big 12 school leaves for another league in the next 13 years, that school's media rights, including revenue, would remain with the Big 12 and not their new conference. And that means that for 13 years, the current Big 12 members will remain Big 12 members.

The ABC/ESPN and FOX deal was first reported last March. It has taken six months to work out the details. With two broadcast partners and 10 member schools all represented by legal teams, the back and forth was considerable in terms of reaching a satisfactory agreement.

Media reports indicate the value of the package at well beyond $2 billion. That money will be equally shared by the 10 member schools.

Here is how's Brett McMurphy put the Big 12 agreement into perspective: "The Big 12's $20 million per school average is slightly behind the Pac-12's $21 million per school media rights deal and on par with the Big Ten's per school average. The Big 12's new deal also will rank ahead of the SEC and ACC's per school averages - at least for now. The SEC is expected to have a more lucrative deal in the coming months."

The final dollar figures do not include the revenue from rights the member institutions retain from third-tier packages. While that money is not shared equally, the combined revenue from the Longhorn Network, the reported pending deal between FOX and Oklahoma, as well as negotiations FOX is reported involved in with other Big 12 members for third tier rights could add another $300 to $400 million to the overall compensation during the 13-year period.

The bottom line: The Big 12's future is secure and it will be lucrative.

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