Big 12 hopeful league remains intact

Austin Times Wire Services

Amid rumors of a Big 12 breakup that would have repercussions throughout college sports, the commissioner of the conference said Friday that he is “comfortable” the league will remain intact.
Nevertheless, commissioner Dan Beebe failed in four days of league meetings to get a commitment that all 12 schools would spurn whatever invitations might come in from other leagues looking to expand.
Instead, he spoke of a “process” that was put in place, but refused to describe it or reveal the drop-dead date when schools must declare whether they’re going to stay or leave the 14-year-old conference. The presidents are scheduled to meet again in October.
“I am comfortable,” Beebe said as meetings wrapped up. “There’s still a process we’re going through but based on the conversations we had I think we’re in a very good position.”
He said that process will “assure the solidification” of the Big 12.
“The process that has been set is firm. But I’m not going to engage in what that is,” he said.
Nebraska and Missouri had triggered talk of a Big 12 breakup by indicating they would be interested in talking to the expansion-minded Big Ten. Then on Thursday, a blog report went through these meetings like a lightning bolt with word that the Pac-10 planned to invite six Big 12 schools to help create two eight-team divisions. Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn later said he thought the report was valid.
The driving issue of all the expansion talk is money, and the possibility of schools greatly boosting revenue by adding to their inventory of television homes.
As a sales pitch to keep the league together, Beebe spent the week explaining that he expected huge increases in rights fees when he opens negotiations next April on a new agreement with Fox Sports. The league’s contracts with ESPN run through the 2015-16 academic year.
Under their present television deals, Big 12 members received between $7 million and $10 million each last year, depending on how many appearances each school made. The Big Ten, enriched by its Big Ten cable network, distributed some $22 million to each member last season. The greatly staggered contract dates are not working in the Big 12’s favor as it seeks to keep up with other leagues.
An expanded Pac-10 could launch its own TV network and command huge money. Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado were said to be on the Pac-10’s shopping list. If they take that deal and Nebraska and Missouri go to the Big Ten, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State would be in danger of not belonging to a BCS league.
“There are many fine universities that aren’t in major conferences,” said Gary Sherrer, vice chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents. “You don’t have to have that to be a really quality university.”
The Big 12 has increased the financial reward for every one of its members since it began play in 1996 with four members of the Southwest Conference and the old Big Eight Conference. Texas led the entire country with $138.45 million in total sports revenues in 2008, according to the most recent Education Department figures.

That was almost $20 million more than No. 2 Ohio State and more than $50 million ahead of Oklahoma, which was second in the Big 12 and 12th nationally with $81.4 million.

Posted by admin on Jun 7th, 2010 and filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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