Big 12 Seeks to Amp Up TV Revenue

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has repeatedly said that money and prestige are not the driving factors for major NCAA conference realignment.

But that wasn't the sentiment today.

Finances were front and center in a Big 12 teleconference Beebe held today to announce the future intentions for the troubled sports conference as it tries to stay together.

A large portion of his 45-minute talk was spent on television dealings and the future of the once-proud league that has lost two members in the last week -- the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which went to the Big 10, and the University of Colorado, which joined the Pac-10.

"It's been a significant rollercoaster ride," Beebe said. "Thankfully, God blessed me with perseverance."

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Beebe was quick to point out that many of his talking points when pitching a 10-team league to the remaining schools focused on potential earnings.

The Big 12 now has an eight-year co-op television deal in place with ABC and ESPN that is worth $480 million and runs through the 2015-2016, and another four-year deal with Fox Sports that is worth $78 million and runs through the 2011-2012 season. Disney is the parent company of ESPN and ABC News.

Beebe argued that splitting the earnings from these contracts would give current Big 12 members more money with two less members.

Beebe also said that when those deals expire, the league will be even better off due to its broad appeal.

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"We love the ABC and Disney family," Beebe said. "We're proud partners right now. But, in 2015 when we meet to discuss future TV deals, we'll consider all other competitors."

Beebe mentioned an upgrade to Fox national as a potential landing spot, citing a deal similar to what the Southeastern Conference has with CBS.

"We continue to analyze the situation," Beebe said, as he reiterated that no changes will be made immediately to the current TV deals. "We've had analysis that we're in position to execute TV deals on par with the rest of the Big 12."

Last season, Big 12 schools divvied up between $7 million and $10 million to each school based on TV appearances both regionally and nationally. Beebe said earlier this month at the annual conference meetings that the Big 12 projects a large increase in rights fees from their current deals. For the 2009-2010 school years, the conference distributed $139 million to its schools, an all-time high for the league, according to the league's Web site.

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"Of course, resources are very important," he said. "The important thing though is the association of the schools."

Association was a contributing factor for at least five of the current Big 12 schools to stay together, according to Beebe.

As late as Monday morning, rumors were swirling that five Big 12 South schools -- Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University -- were on the verge of accepting an invitation to join Colorado in the Pac-10, expanding that conference to 16 teams.

Revenue projections for the new Pac-16 television deal were as high as $20 million per school. In contrast, according to the latest data released by the Big 12 in 2007, Texas made about $10 million in yearly television revenue, the highest in the league.

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