- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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The remaining Big 12 schools have taken a major step toward staying together by agreeing to equally distribute Tier I and II television revenues, a deal that will be complete with all nine institutions' individual OKs.
The conference, after going through a second straight year of dealing with at least one defection from its membership, announced that its board of directors had adopted the plan Monday after discussing it over the weekend.
The football and men's basketball revenue from Tier I and Tier II contracts will take effect once each of the nine schools commit to a grant of rights for at least six years.
Tier I includes nationally televised games on a broadcast network such as ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox. All cable football, ESPN basketball and Big 12 network games produced by ESPN Regional fall under Tier II.
The previous distribution was based on television appearances, and thus a larger percentage for the teams being televised.
If all nine schools sign off on the agreement, it would end speculation that Missouri would bolt to the SEC.
Missouri president Brady Deaton is the head of the board of directors. The Missouri board of curators is expected to meet Tuesday to discuss this as well as any other matters related to conference affiliation.
The Big 12 lost Nebraska to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12 a year ago and then officially last month saw Texas A&M bolt to the SEC, effective for the 2012-13 season.
That left Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri as the nine remaining members. The Big 12 board of directors ousted commissioner Dan Beebe over the instability in the conference. The board hired former Big Eight commissioner Chuck Neinas as an interim replacement, but Neinas said upon accepting the job that he didn't want the full-time gig.
The agreement would force all the schools to share revenue from the television deals, putting no school above another.
But the deal doesn't forbid schools from keeping their own network rights (Tier III), which would mean Texas can keep any revenue earned from the Longhorn Network, which is co-owned and operated by ESPN. All of the remaining schools have some sort of local deal, whether it's a network or a web outlet or a locally syndicated package.
The Tier I and II rights are for the league's television deals with ESPN/ABC and Fox. The Big 12 signed a reportedly $1 billion, 13-year deal with Fox last April, although the change in membership could alter that deal.
Once the remaining nine schools sign off on the grant in rights then the league will begin pursuing expansion. An expansion committee is scheduled to discuss possible teams. The Big 12 originally had a list of Arkansas, BYU, Pitt, Louisville and West Virginia when Texas A&M left before Oklahoma president David Boren said the Sooners would look at other options. The Sooners' main option was snuffed out when the Pac-12 decided it would not expand.
Arkansas has said it would remain in the SEC. Pitt is now off to the ACC in 2012 or '13. For the Big 12 expansion pool, that leaves BYU, an independent in football with all other sports in the WCC; Big East teams Louisville, West Virginia and possibly Cincinnati and South Florida; Boise State and Air Force out of the Mountain West; and TCU, now in the MWC but bound for the Big East in 2012.
The question that remains for the Big 12 though, is how many teams to add. That hasn't been answered yet, according to sources. The ideal number is believed to be 10, assuming Missouri stays, with the possibility of going to 12. The TCU question will be an interesting one for Texas since adding TCU would open up the politics for Conference USA members in Texas such as SMU to push for inclusion.
Andy Katz is a senior college basketball writer for ESPN.com.