West Virginia nets nearly $14 million as Big 12 revenue climbs to $221 million

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced $221 million in revenue this year, of which about $213 million will be distributed to its 10 members.


Friday marked payday for the Big 12 Conference, with West Virginia receiving nearly $14 million from the league’s $221 million pie for 2013-14.

West Virginia and TCU, as second-year members under a four-year phase-in plan, earned a 67-percent share compared to other Big 12 schools, who netted about $23 million each.

Last year, the new additions received 50-percent shares and they are slated to earn 85 percent next spring, before climbing to full shares in 2016. (Even the partial payout dwarfs what the schools earned in their previous conferences: WVU earning about $7 million in its final Big East season, and TCU receiving a mere $2 million in the Mountain West.)

The overall revenue figures—revealed on the final day of the conference’s spring meetings in Las Colinas, Texas—exceeded league projections by $8.1 million. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby attributed the overage to postseason success in the two most lucrative sports: A second team reaching the Bowl Championship Series in football, followed by six teams qualifying for the NCAA basketball tournament.

Big 12 annual revenue has climbed every year since the league’s inception in 1997, when it distributed $56.3 million.

“The revenue we have in place will put a lot of vitality in place on our campuses,” Bowlsby said.

It violates natural law for Big 12 administrators to gather without talk of expansion, but they really tried to downplay or outright ignore the topic this week.

Their reasoning is mathematically simple: The league’s overall revenue from TV packages is far less than the SEC, Big Ten and Pac 12, but its per-school payouts are currently larger.

So even as outsiders contend the Big 12 should grow its numbers to at least match its name, and allow it to produce a football conference championship game, Bowlsby and his captains say they’re pleased with the 10-team setup.

“Having walked through the valley of the shadow of death in conference realignment, I think we all understand the importance of a collaborative body,” said Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, who chairs the Big 12’s board of directors. “What survived all of that were the people who wanted to be together.”

Regardless of the happy-as-is company line, the league would likely seize the chance to add BYU if only there was an equally valuable and available expansion partner (which there isn’t).

With the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit proceeding—and others litigation taking shape with regard to cost-of-attendance and unionization issues—the league placed $7.8 million in a reserve fund. Some $1.5 million of that is budgeted for attorneys, up from $400,000 last year.

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