The Big 12′s board of directors approved Friday morning a 13-year television deal with ABC/ESPN and Fox, worth $2.6 billion overall and $20 million annually to each member school.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby called the agreement a "very public and business-oriented substantiation of the commitment 10 institutions have privately" — one he said will deter any worries that league membership might "come off the rails again."
"The members are a fully aligned group whose futures will go together in lockstep."
The conference and the networks agreed in principle back in May. The agreement begins with the current 2012-13 athletic season and extends through 2024-25.
West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck spoke with MetroNews Thursday night in advance of the deal being finalized. Luck said he believed conference administrators and network representatives spent the summer "figuring who gets first choice of certain games and who gets second and third choice. I think that was the only stumbling block."
Luck said the TV contract provides "huge benefits" to West Virginia, even though, as part of its Big 12 membership agreement, WVU won’t receive a full conference revenue share until the 2015-16 athletic year. WVU is scheduled to receive a 50-percent share this year, 67 percent in 2013-14 and 84 percent the following year.
Along with added exposure for the Mountaineers’ football and basketball programs, Luck said the money allows the school to become more competitive in regard to coaches’ salaries and engage in long-range planning for facility upgrades.
"Our new conference, from a television perspective, is much more appealing to us than the Big East was," said Luck, who shepherded the Mountaineers through a year of conference upheaval that clearly was worth the ride. "You think about the last 12 months and it’s been a remarkable pace of change."
"The television landscape has been changing fast nationally, going back to the Pac-12 deal that went Mach 1 and kind of broke through the sound barrier."
The Big 12′s per-team payout is now on par with Big Ten schools and just a notch behind the $21 million each Pac-12 school receives annually.
The new deal includes the crucial grant-of-rights clause, which secures stability for the league’s current 10 members. If a Big 12 school leaves the league within the next 13 years, that school’s media rights and revenue would remain with the Big 12 and not the departing school’s new conference. (The Big Ten and Pac-12 contracts feature similar provisions, giving fans hope that the era of major conference shuffling is on hold.)
"The stability of the Big 12 Conference is cemented," Bowlsby said.
While the commissioner said the league won’t blind itself to expansion opportunities — particularly if approached by programs with "extraordinary cache" — he suggested "a period of calm would be advantageous" for college football.
The conference released other highlights of the contract:
Platforms: Big 12 events to be carried on various ESPN and FOX platforms including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, FOX, FX, FSN, Fox College Sports (FCS), and FOX Sports Digital Platforms.
Programming: Institutions have option to retain rights to one home football game and a minimum of four men’s basketball games per season for distribution via permitted member institution outlets and third-party licenses including the FSN Regional Networks and FOX College Sports. … There are no exclusive telecast windows, except for ESPN men’s basketball "Big Monday" and "Saturday College GameDay" telecasts featuring Big 12 teams.
Annual football coverage: Every Big 12 controlled football game is included in the package. … ABC/ESPN get 19 games per year thru 2015, increasing to 23 games annually in 2016 (minimum 13-15 full national exposures via ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or in combination with reverse mirror); maximum four-five games on ESPNU. … FOX gets approximately 38 games, with minimum of six contests annually on FOX broadcast and six games on a national cable outlet. … Each school gets one member-retained game, which must be carried on a FOX platform if returned. … Television partners have a maximum four six-day picks between them per season. … Minimum four Thursday games each season (including Labor Day weekend and Thanksgiving Day); and one Labor Day Sunday appearance. … Maximum of four games scheduled for 8:15 p.m. local time starts per season with the following restrictions: no program required to play more than twice; host more than once; play consecutive weekends; and six-day pick only with Conference consent.
Annual men’s basketball coverage: ESPN will televise 100-105 games per season, with 43 games on ESPN or ESPN2 (or sublicense to ABC, CBS, FOX) including a minimum of 30 intra-conference games. Up to 40 games on ESPNU. … There’s an option to sublicense up to 20 games to another national cable outlet, with up to six games per season for live origination on ESPN3. … Remaining games on broadcast syndication with Big 12 Network branding. … A minimum four games each season retained for individual permitted member institution outlets.