Texas and Oklahoma will not have to forfeit as much money as initially expected for leaving the Big 12 conference a year early, according to a report by USA Today. The report states that the Big 12 opted for a more amicable split, resulting in a reduction of revenue distribution for the two schools. Here’s what you need to know about this development:
The Financial Impact
When it was announced in February that Texas and Oklahoma would be leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC in 2024, the conference stated that the schools would forfeit a combined $100 million in revenue distribution. However, the USA Today report reveals that more than $80 million of that amount is based on money the schools will not receive in the year after their move. The remaining funds are attributed to cuts in full revenue shares for the 2023-24 season, which will be used to finance payments promised to four schools that recently joined the conference.
Withholding of Revenue Shares
According to the Big 12’s bylaws, two years’ worth of conference revenue shares were supposed to be withheld from Oklahoma and Texas. However, the report states that neither school has had any money withheld by the conference, and this will continue into the 2023-24 season.
Reduced Shares for All Schools
To fund payments of $18 million each to new members BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston, shares for Oklahoma, Texas, and the other eight schools in the conference will be reduced by approximately $7 million per school compared to what they received in the previous season.
Transition Payments and ESPN’s Role
While Oklahoma and Texas will not receive money from the SEC’s primary revenue sharing pool in 2024-25, they will still benefit from football- and men’s basketball-specific distributions outlined in the SEC’s bylaws. Additionally, the schools could receive additional funds through specially negotiated terms and “transition” payments funded by ESPN. This highlights the influence of television networks on conference realignment.
Colorado’s Signing Bonus
The report also reveals that the Big 12 paid Colorado a $2.5 million “signing bonus” in July when the school agreed to join the conference in 2024. This payment was made around the same time that the Big 12 poached Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State from the Pac-12 via a pro rata clause in the media rights contract.
Implications for the SEC
The SEC is also a winner in this situation. They get to add two of the biggest brand names in college football a year earlier than expected, without having to revenue share with Texas and Oklahoma in 2024-25. ESPN’s involvement in easing the transition for the two schools further benefits the SEC.
Statements from ESPN and Big 12
ESPN stated that after Texas and Oklahoma decided to change conferences, all parties involved chose to accelerate the process and transition a year earlier. The media partners were brought in to reach a resolution that would satisfy everyone for the 2024-25 season. Brett Yormark, head of the Big 12, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, stating that all parties reached an equitable and amicable decision.
The Influence of TV Networks
This report highlights the significant influence of television networks on conference realignment. ESPN’s involvement in various aspects of the process, including transition payments and negotiations, demonstrates their role in shaping the landscape of college football.
In conclusion, Texas and Oklahoma will not have to forfeit as much money as initially anticipated for leaving the Big 12 early. The reduction in revenue distribution is a result of a more amicable split between the schools and the conference. The SEC benefits from adding two powerhouse programs earlier than expected, while ESPN plays a significant role in facilitating the transition. The influence of television networks on conference realignment is evident in this situation.