Irving, Texas The Big 12 Conference reported another year of record revenue Friday, with school officials saying it was proof of financial strength.
“No one is significantly stronger than we are in any of the power five conferences,” said David Boren, Oklahoma’s president and outgoing chairman of the Big 12 board of directors. “We can hold our own with any of them in regard to our financial picture.”
As the league’s spring meetings came to a close, Boren also said the 10 schools are strongly united.
Boren said the Sooners, despite the assertion of some outside the league, aren’t desperately seeking to find another conference. Nor is any other school.
“Emphatically not,” Boren said. “You can tell that from my own conversations. We’re more optimistic than we have been in some time about the future of the Big 12 and the strength and stability of the conference.”
The schools will split $348 million for the 2016-17 academic year. The $34.8 million per school is up by some $4.4 million from last year in the 11th consecutive year of increases. That per-team average has nearly quadrupled over the years; schools shared $106 million a decade ago, about $8.8 million per team.
About $6 million of Baylor’s portion for this year, and 25 percent of future revenues, will be held in an escrow account pending verification of changes at the school in the aftermath of a campus sexual assault scandal. Big 12 officials say the process is just starting to verify that the school is putting in place 105 recommendations for reforming its Title IX process.
League revenues are expected to increase again next year, when the resumption of the league’s football championship game could generate nearly $30 million.
Boren, the only one of the Big 12 presidents who has been in his position since the league’s inception two decades ago, said his goal is to eliminate the seemingly unending topic of league instability.
“This is ultimately not all about money. On the other hand, it’s like, do you want to work for a company that’s financially sound, or do you want to continue to work for a company that may collapse in the near future and you’ll have to be laid off?” he said. “The dramatic improvement as you go through the years. ... It’s not only healthy, it’s robust. So that’s a very strong talking point on behalf of the conference.”
The revenue numbers — from the league’s deals and money from the College Football Playoff, bowl games and NCAA Tournament games — don’t include third-tier broadcast rights such as the average $15 million a year Texas gets from ESPN for the Longhorn Network or about $7 million Oklahoma makes from its own network.
Linda Livingstone, Baylor’s new president in her first days on the job, helped provide the board an update on how the school is progressing with the implementation of changes since the scandal that led to the departures last year of the school’s former president, athletic director and two-time Big 12 champion football coach Art Briles.
“She gave us a long presentation, she entertained questions and she was very forthcoming,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “We’re all very impressed with her.”
The league has hired attorney Janet Judge to do the third-party verification of Baylor’s changes, a process that started only within the past couple of weeks and is expected to be a lengthy one. Judge also provided the board with an update.
Baylor is in the process of completing its own internal audit, and has commissioned an external audit as well.
The world’s largest Baptist university faces at least six federal and state lawsuits as well as a federal civil rights investigation into claims the school and football program ignored, mishandled or tried to cover up reports of sexual or physical abuse and other criminal misdeeds across campus for years.
Boren ended his term as the Big 12 board chairman that included the league last year considering expansion before deciding to remain at 10 members, and the restoration of the championship football game.
Gordon Gee, the president of West Virginia, was selected as the board’s new chairman.