The Big Ten will cash the biggest check from outside income among college conferences for the 2012-13 financial year, according to Forbes Magazine.
The revenue generated by network television contracts, bowl games and the NCAA tournaments — income from deals struck by the conference — will amount to about $310 million.
The Pac-12 is second at $303 million, the ACC third at $293 million, followed by the SEC ($270 million) and Big 12 ($262 million).
Conference-generated income is shared among members. Because the Big 12 only has 10 teams, each school’s share is $26.2 million, which is the most per school in the major conferences.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the dollar amount for his conference wasn't exact “but in the ballpark, and they are the essence of why we feel good about 10 members. Ultimately, it's not about gross number of dollars but how much gets returned to the campus.”
The Big 12 figure also doesn’t include third-tier television rights, which are controlled by the schools. Texas’ ESPN-based Longhorn Network is worth $300 million over 20 years. The Jayhawk Network added some $6.5 million to Kansas’ coffers in 2012, according to federal papers filed by the university.
The bulk of all conference revenue is generated by television contracts with networks, and those dollars continue to escalate.
The Big 12 is in the first year of concurrent deals with Fox and ESPN that are worth a combined $200 million annually. The 13-year agreement includes a grant of rights that basically stabilizes the conference.
New television deals for Southeastern Conference could net the league, which has won the last seven BCS National Championship Games, about $34 million annually per school starting in 2014, according to a report in USA Today. The league has been renegotiating its deals with CBS and ESPN after the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M.
Everybody else will get richer that year when the college football playoff commences. ESPN will pay college football $470 million annually for the television rights, although the distribution formula has not been established.
But there is uncertainty in the landscape: Is the Big Ten, which has announced the additions of Maryland and Rutgers in November, finished expanding?
Expansion may be pausing for the result of the lawsuit filed by the ACC against Maryland. The ACC is seeking $52 million in exit fees, and the Terps say they’ll pay some amount but not that much.
The thinking goes that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will see how the ACC case is resolved. If favorable to Maryland, another land grab could ensue. Georgia Tech? Virginia? If Big Ten continues expansion continues, the SEC and others may feel pressed to keep up and the motion sickness won’t settle.
One group, unlikely as it may seem, wants the realignment carousel to stop.
“Instability for us is bad business,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s senior vice president, who oversees college sports programming, said at the BCS championship game. “If I could turn back the clock to Nov. 2008, and everybody would be where they were, that would be a great outcome for us.”