Big 12 strikes new media deal

Updated: September 7, 2012, 4:06 PM ET
By Brett McMurphy | ESPN

The Big 12 Conference announced Friday it has reached an agreement on a 13-year media rights deal with ABC/ESPN and Fox.

The deal is worth $2.6 billion, an average of $200 million per year and worth $20 million per school, industry sources told ESPN.

The package will run through the 2024-25 school year. ABC/ESPN and Fox will share the league's football inventory, while ABC/ESPN will be the exclusive provider for Big 12 men's basketball.

ESPN spokesperson Josh Krulewitz declined comment.

"The stability of the Big 12 Conference is cemented," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "We are positioned with one of the best media rights arrangements in collegiate sports, providing the conference and its members unprecedented revenue growth, and sports programming over two networks."

The deal includes a "grant of rights" agreement, meaning if a Big 12 school leaves for another league in the next 13 years, that school's media rights, including revenue, would remain with the Big 12 and not its new conference.

The grant of rights is huge for the Big 12's stability. Just last year, it appeared the league would implode by losing Texas and Oklahoma to the Pac-12. However, both schools stayed. The Big 12 did lose Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC but replaced them this season with West Virginia and TCU.

"Today's announcement, coupled with the hiring of Bob Bowlsby as our league's new commissioner, is a great example of how well the Big 12 is positioned for the future," said Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, chairman of the Big 12 ADs. " This contract ensures the Big 12 Conference will continue to be one of the premier conferences in the country."

The Big 12's $20 million per school average is slightly behind the Pac-12's $21 million per school media rights deal and on par with the Big Ten's per school average. The Big 12's deal also will rank ahead of the SEC's and ACC's per school averages -- at least for now. The SEC is expected to have a more lucrative deal in the coming months.

For now, there are no plans for expansion for a league that just last fall was looking for replacements.

"We have no active agenda for expansion of the conference at this point in time," Bowlsby said. "That doesn't mean that we are oblivious to what might be other opportunities going forward, but I really believe that a period of calm would be advantageous to us and college athletics in general. ... We have a lot going for us and we ought to be slow to share that unless somebody brings extraordinary cache."

Without being specific, Bowlsby said there are provisions in the new deal and an ongoing dialogue for "active issues, changing circumstances" and potential changes should there ever be league expansion and changes such as the re-establishment of a Big 12 conference championship game in football if more teams are added.

The new deal means the Big 12 and Pac-12 are the only conferences with telecast agreements with two over-the-air national networks in ABC and Fox.

The Big 12 joins the Big Ten and Pac-12 as the only conferences with grant of rights media deals.

Brett McMurphy covers college sports for ESPN. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Brett McMurphy | email

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