Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Did Nebraska like Big 12's revenue plan?
Throughout Nebraska's transition to the Big Ten, top school officials have praised the league as one where all of its members stand on equal footing.
This point often has come up when discussing why Nebraska left the Big 12 last June.
"We appreciate the stability, we appreciate the collegiality we've seen within the Big Ten," Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne told me in February. "There is a good deal of concern about the welfare, the health of the league, as opposed to individual desires to get a bigger piece of the pie."
At the root of the Big Ten's "collegiality" is the league's philosophy on revenue distribution. The Big Ten shares its revenue equally among all members. The Big 12, meanwhile, has distributed revenue based on television appearances, although the league is adopting a more equitable model.
Nebraska has indicated it prefers the Big Ten model and got fed up with inequalities in the Big 12, particularly issues concerning a university located in Austin, Texas.
But Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has a different take on Nebraska, Texas and his league's revenue-distribution model.
He recently shared it with colleague David Ubben:
"What’s interesting though, and maybe even a little bit curious to me is that Texas and Nebraska were aligned almost exactly on every issue, including the revenue distribution piece and putting all the rights into the conference," Beebe said. "So it’s kind of interesting when I read about comments about Nebraska now being pleased about being in a conference where they put all their rights in and divide money equally. That’s the exact opposite position that they took for years in this conference."
Beebe also tells Ubben about the issues Nebraska and particularly Osborne had with the Big 12 and several recent decisions by the league. But Beebe's assertion that Nebraska being aligned with Texas on revenue distribution likely will get folks' attention in Lincoln.
Remember what Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said last June in announcing the school's move to the Big Ten? Perlman was referring to the ultimatum given to Nebraska to pledge its allegiance to the Big 12.
"I said, ‘There's only one way that you can fully commit, long term, to a conference, and that is you assign media rights to your athletic contests to the conference for the long term,'" Perlman said. "And I asked, 'Were the members willing to do that?' The University of Texas made it clear they were not willing to do that."
So which is it? Did Nebraska like the Big 12's revenue distribution model or not?
Perhaps Nebraska preferred the model until it began getting a smaller piece of the pie.
Either way, Nebraska will soon be an equal revenue partner in the Big Ten. And I doubt there will be many complaints about it.