Monday, August 2, 2021

Big 12 warns of losing 50% of TV value following UT/OU exit

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, a Big 12 pylon marks the end zone at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State in Austin, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, a Big 12 pylon marks the end zone at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)


Austin, Texas (AP) — The Big 12 Conference could see the value of its television deal cut in half once Texas and Oklahoma bolt for the Southeastern Conference, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Monday at a hearing of Texas lawmakers.

A committee of Texas senators heard testimony from university leaders at Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech on the monetary and academic losses that conference realignment would mean for the Big 12 and its members once Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC in 2025.

University of Texas at Austin President Jay Hartzell testified that the path to making the switch became clear “into the summer,” and that UT told Bowlsby that in a call following news of the move. Hartzell said the school would "continue to honor all agreements.”

“Up until the moment you hit send on the decision, you are always thinking, ‘Is this the right thing for the University of Texas at Austin?’” Hartzell said.

Bowlsby has been highly critical of both Texas and Oklahoma, accusing them of plotting for months to leave the 10-member league for the powerful SEC. He also accused ESPN of working behind the scenes to gut the Big 12, even sending a cease-and-desist letter that the cable giant refuted, but backed off that stance Monday: “We have agreed to not escalate this publicly. It’s in neither party’s best interest to do so.”

Hartzell was asked whether the school had included ESPN in its conversations about moving to the SEC and said: "Absolutely, categorically, no.”

Hartzell said Texas initiated contact with the SEC, reaching out to the conference in the spring. He said the idea of joining other conferences such as the Big Ten, Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 was considered internally, but Texas never contacted those leagues.

Hartzell was also on the receiving end of some needling from lawmakers.

After Hartzell said Texas' athletic budget was between $220-$225 million per year — one of the largest in the country — Sen. Lois Kolkhorst noted the Longhorns had only won three of the last 10 games against her alma mater, TCU.

“Maybe your fanbase would rather lose to Alabama than TCU,” she said.

Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades, who said his school's athletic budget is 48% of Texas', was even harsher in his criticism of the Longhorns during testimony.

“Many of my colleagues around the country believe that the University of Texas created this situation because they think so highly of themselves,” Rhoades said. ”My humble opinion: I completely disagree. I think it’s because they felt too little of themselves.”

Texas lawmakers dug into the future of the Big 12 without the Sooners and Longhorns. Bowlsby said the TV contract value would take a 50% hit.

The Big 12 distributed $345 million to its 10 members this year ($34.5 million apiece), down from the previous year because of the pandemic. Most of that revenue comes from the Big 12′s TV deals, including ESPN. The SEC is positioned to distribute as much as $70 million annually to its members in coming years.

Bowlsby said he supported the idea of the remaining Big 12 teams sticking together and said they are exploring their options. He said he wouldn't blame any school for looking out for themselves first, but “there is a right way to do it.”

Members of the Senate panel focused their questions on the economic impact to Texas cities such as Fort Worth, Waco and Lubbock, the homes of the Big 12 Texas schools being left behind. Baylor President Linda Livingstone told the committee that “the livelihood” of some Texas communities was at stake since the opponent mattered in ticket sales and attracting larger crowds.

Rhoades said the financial implications could put into question upcoming projects — including the building of a new basketball arena — and affect academic opportunities for students. Rhoades said the school, like others impacted, will also struggle to attract and keep talent on the field and in coaching staffs.

“The economic impact is real,” Rhoades said less than four months after the men's basketball team won the NCAA championship. “If we are no longer a member of a Power Five, we will sell less tickets, we will sell less merchandise, we will raise less money and we will have less corporate sponsorship.”

Texas A&M; officials didn’t accept invitations to testify at the hearing, according to state Sen. Jane Nelson, who chaired the committee. Texas A&M; left the Big 12 for the SEC in 2012.

Nelson told state representatives present at the hearing that she was sorry the House chamber could not hear testimony on the subject due to a lack of quorum after over 50 Democratic Texas representatives left the state to block for a second time the passage of new state voting restrictions.

The Legislature's special session called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ends this week, and he has vowed to call another session to ensure the passage of the voting bills.


Rodney Crain 1 year, 1 month ago

If only this was the worst to come from this tragedy. This is going to get a lot worse. Crying, denials, lawsuits, firings, coaches leaving for better jobs, reductions in the number of sports, and on and on. On the plus side, where is that NCAA ruling? Dark years ahead for us.

Len Shaffer 1 year, 1 month ago

"Bowlsby said he supported the idea of the remaining Big 12 teams sticking together ..."

Of course he would say that. It would be the only way he could possibly keep his job -- although of course he doesn't deserve to hold it for another minute.

But I can't see the conference staying together being the answer for KU at this point. I'm just hoping we can end up in the Big 10; otherwise, this is a very scary time.

Rodney Schulz 1 year, 1 month ago

I may be proven wrong on this, but the idea of the Big Ten offering KU membership is crazy based on the fact that the Big Ten is primarily a football conference and KU has had such a dismal football record for decades, with the exception of a couple Mangino years and a couple Mason years.

Brian Skelly 1 year, 1 month ago

This is exactly why KU needs to find somewhere else to land.     At almost all costs.

Non-revenue sports at KU will get hammered by this.    Amongst other things.

Seeing the athletic department slice half it's employees isn't out of the question either

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

We were fine without Texas before. We will be fine afterwards. A reset for KU athletics might be just what we need.

Micky Baker 1 year, 1 month ago

I think the Big 12 teams should stick together as well, but not for the same reasons that commissioner does. For sure, KU and K-State should be a package deal. The best chance for the long-term for the Big 12 schools is to stick together and get more schools from the Mountain West, AAC to come to the Big 12 or just merge with the entirety of the Mountain West. Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, OSU, K-State, KU, Iowa State all to the Mountain West or bring all of the Mountain West into the Big 12 seems to be a good situation for all involved. It would give the division winners an extra game, more NCAA tourney revenues, more Bowl Game revenues, etc. And TV games. And who wouldn't go to watch a game at the Air Force Academy or at Colorado State or New Mexico?

Glen Miller 1 year, 1 month ago

Please stop with the KU and KSU being a package deal. Why does everyone think that. It's NOT a rivalry and having them tag along does nothing but bring our value down.

Robert Lofthouse 1 year, 1 month ago

Is Kansas the only thing holding the big8 together at this point?

Why not follow the Notre Dame model, with a twist, and have the Athletic program join the (you pick) conference but hold out the BB program to be fiercely independent.

OR -

Provisionally join the BIG10 only as a BB program? Jayhawk BB can stand on its' own and be more valuable detached from the FB program.

HBBCBS could then fully concentrate on playing for the national championship (as an independent) without getting bogged down in the conference championship noise. No post-season conference tournament, get a week to rest up and prep for the NCAA tourney.

OR -

In the case of the BIG10, compete at a consistently high level throughout the year. It's perennially one of the top teams in the country, a marquee program that most any school would want to challenge or play against. Take advantage of that! Leave the big8. Use your strength! Go ALL IN for the Big Dance!

For the amount of $$$$ spent on it, the FB program must get its house in order soon, or get out of the business of college athletics altogether, if the football experiment doesn't work.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

Editors, I accidently clicked flag for removal on Mr. Lofthouse's post. Please ignore my removal flag.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

What I meant to reply with is that You have to be careful that you don't end up with the UConn model. UConn is a member of the basketball only Big East which is basically a basketball power conference. UConn is an FBS independent in football. Their basketball revenue does not counterbalance their losses in other sports and their athletic dept is net negative in revenue.

I don't think that the ND model is available to Kansas because I doubt that any power conference would accept KU as a conference member in all sports except for Men's BB. I just don't believe that they would take KU if they aren't getting Men's BB because there's nothing in it for the conference if they agreed to that.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 year, 1 month ago

I'd like to see the remaining Big 12 schools stick together but at the same time, if any of the remaining individual schools gets an offer to join another power conference I wouldn't blame them for leaving.

It appears that the ACC may be losing a couple of its top revenue schools to the SEC also.

Maybe a Big 12 & ACC merger is in the cards down the road.

Crazy times.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

Reposting from another story…KU, KSU, OSU, ISU and TTU should pod together. WVU has no place in this conference. Never did. And forget the private religious schools.

As a pod, that group could merge with the Mountain West. Rename/Rebrand it to get some excitement. Form east and west divisions. Leave a lot of scheduling flexibility by having 8 league games and a championship.

No, the money won’t be as good, but that’s a pretty good conference. One that can be built and strengthened over time.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 year, 1 month ago

As a fan, I wouldn't mind seeing the Big 8 schools stick together and try to poach / merge with the Mountain West or the AAC and at least attempt to remain a power conference.

Basketball can remain great in any conference with the right coach. Football would have a better opportunity to gain stability and relevance. The main drawback obviously is trying to do the same sports things with less money coming in from the conference.

My preference would be to keep all the current Big 8 members and poach schools in the Eastern time zone instead of going to the West. But, if you did go West, then West Virginia would definitely be the odd school out.

Just curious, why would you not want TCU and Baylor? I would think Baylor is one of the most valuable schools of the remaining 8.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

Just curious, why would you not want TCU and Baylor?

Let's just say that when Brett says "And forget the private religious schools." That he is editorializing on Christianity, rather than presenting a strategy for KU to remain in a competitive and profitable athletics environment.

Brian Wilson 1 year, 1 month ago

Why not just have all of the Big 12 teams join the SEC and avoid all of this Hooey. Then separate the league into two divisions, have Division Athletic Directors, so that whoever gets Bowlsby's job when he is fired can have input.

Spencer Goff 1 year, 1 month ago

@Brett McCabe

Thanks man, I think the doom and gloomers forget life goes on, this school being in the Big 12 has been a sickness and I will be happy to see that sickness walk.

Athletic dollars and all that crap is not worth an abusive relationship where one school thumbs their nose at everyone around them.

Had the Big 8 imploded and the SWC at the same time in the 90s we would be in the Pac 12 or Big 10 without a question, so this relationship we has been nothing but a drain.

Thank you SEC for curing our cancer.

Ted Adams 1 year, 1 month ago

It appears both the P12 and B12 are going to take a pause. Why? Because the B10 is having discussions with UCLA/USC/OR/WA about moving to the B10. One issue has already arisen with that idea in that UCLA and CAL are joined at the hip apparently. Obviously, B10 doesn't want CAL, so they are possibly looking at CU as the 4th. Aside from that, they may decide to go to 20 and add AZ and...KU. (For the B10, the more AAU schools the better. They make more money on research grants from the government than they do the TV media money for sports.)

IF the B10 makes their play in this way, the P12 and B12 are already having discussions about a merger of the remaining schools. Thus, the pause for the moment.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

Jonathan, I’d prefer us to be in conference of state schools, plus Air Force. Baylor and TCU were not created on the state school model. They focus on a singular religious philosophy, and the exclusion of other spiritual and non-spiritual ideas.

Would you encourage KU to bring along Islam focused universities or are you just a hypocrite?

Right wing religious zealots should form their own conference. And I’m not kidding. Liberty, TCU, Baylor, Tulane and others could form a solid league. And then teach all of their kids to ignore the teachings of Jesus and vote for people like Abbot, Cruz, MTG, Cotton and Trump. And support insurrection based on lies. Maybe a masters in NDA’s?

Glen Miller 1 year, 1 month ago

You do this just to stir things up don't you? I mean because if this is how your brain processes then you need help.

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 1 month ago

Just as a have to have at least one private school in your conference. This is how the conferences avoid the FOIA requests.

That's why you have Vandy in the SEC, Stanford in the PAC, Baylor in the B12, and Northwestern in Big10. I believe WF in the ACC.

Jonathan Allison 1 year, 1 month ago

America was founded by Christians on the basis of freedom of religion. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I believe in the Bible. And I submit to the laws of the USA.

Absolutely if any collegiate athletics conference were to extend membership to an Islamic University I believe they have that right. I also have the right to protest such a move just as you promote KU separating itself from religious institutions.

I disagree with your idea that KU and the Big 12 member institutions should separate from Baylor and TCU for two reasons. #1 is because both schools bring valuable athletics programs to the conference and #2 is because whether or not those schools are actually changing the world for Jesus Christ I believe that there is value in their being aligned or affiliated with the Church. Just as I believe that there is value in Americans remembering and reflecting on the Christian heritage of our nation.

God is real. You may not believe it, but He loves all of us and it is His will for all of us to come to faith in Him. The world would be a much better place if everyone were on the path of sanctification

Jeff Coffman 1 year, 1 month ago

The BigTen is in the Drivers Seat. If it goes for the big dogs in the PAC, then we will really see some re-alignment. If the Big Ten was aggressive they would go after UCLA and USC for their two teams.

If they wanted to go to 20, you could see KU added as one of the six.

If the BigTen is successful at raiding teams from the PAC, then the ACC will answer with getting ND and adding another team.

If PAC12 loses their big names, then the Big12 actually becomes more viable than the PAC because of time zone. However, teams would have to leave to strengthen the future Big12/PAC12 remnants conference.

I think OU and UT won't be the biggest surprises to move when this is all said and done.

John Joseph Gorski 1 year, 1 month ago

Rodney Schulz That’s exactly why the B1G should grab Kansas. It’s know as a football conference but adding a team like Kansas and Self will strengthen the basketball side of the league.

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