It was announced earlier today that the Big 12 has inked a 13 year deal for their media rights with ESPN/ABC and Fox networks. According to the report the deal is worth a whopping $2.6 billion deal, which comes out to about $20 million a year per team in the ten team conference.
The deal has ESPN, ABC, and Fox all splitting the football side of things, while the basketball side of things will be exclusive to ESPN/ABC properties.
For a conference that was left for dead just two years ago this has to be considered one of the biggest miracles in college athletics as of late.
The new deal allows the Big 12 to stay competitive wit the other big boys of college athletics as they are now on par with the Big Ten and just slightly behind the likes of the Pac-12 ($21 million) and the SEC.
By signing this deal the Big 12 put another massive stamp, along with the additions of West Virginia and TCU, on saying "We're here to stay."
The deal allows the conference to play games on two over the air networks, something only one other conference, the Pac-12, can boast. That serves to only increase the visibility of the conference and could see multiple prime-time games being played by conference teams.
One of the biggest parts of this contract that should help the stability of the conference is that the media rights deal has what's called "a grant of rights" agreement, meaning if a team leaves the conference the media money stays with the Big 12 and not the conference said school moves to.
The Big 12 got burned bad when Missouri and Texas A&M left the conference and the grant of rights allows schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor some comfort that the league isn't going anywhere, at least not without huge losses by the teams leaving.
Clearly, new commissioner Bob Bowlsby has an eye on making this conference one of the elite for quite some time to come and the job he's done since taking over as commissioner just earlier this year is nothing short of amazing.
Could his hire go down as the one that saved college athletics from the dreaded "super conferences?" Only time will tell, but with this media rights deal the Big 12 stays on even footing with everyone else and solidifies the conference footprint.
This is great for the Big 12. Now, if they can just attract a school like IOWA (to align with IOWA St.) or schools like UK and Louisville (as a good complement with WVU), the conference could really be set (and back to 12 schools).
Can you image a B-Ball conference with Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Kentucky and Louisville?