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Money talks with WVU's move to Big 12

By Jack Bogaczyk

For those folks still wondering why West Virginia is making a conference switch from the Big East to the Big 12 -- and debating the urgency of a Mayflower overnight move for next season -- it's time to starting counting the reasons.

There are close to 20 million of them ... annually.

Gee, notice how that number jibes with WVU's recent out-of-court settlement to get out of the Big East.

Anyway, in a week when Coach Bob Huggins' basketball team was misfiring its way out of the NCAA Tournament bracket, SportsBusiness Journal first reported that the Big 12 -- with expansion dust settled for now -- will get a windfall in long-term extension with ESPN/ABC for primary telecast rights.

The deal, as reported, would take a contract that is scheduled to run through 2015-16 for $60 million annually and up it to $100 million annually over each of the next 13 years, through 2024-25.

Big 12 officials aren't commenting, because the deal isn't finalized.

The pending ESPN/ABC extension and sweetening is in addition to a second-tier Big 12 telecast contract with Fox for $1.17 billion over those same 13 years (through 2024-25). OK, now do the math ...

That's $2.470 billion over 13 years in the two deals. Divide that by 10 teams, and you'll see each Big 12 member will be getting $19 million annually (once WVU and TCU are into full revenue sharing) from television rights alone.

That doesn't include additional -- and significant -- bowl (about $40 million for the conference), NCAA basketball ($19 million last year) and other marketing revenue.

That $19 million more than doubles what West Virginia would be getting (but won't because of the negotiated settlement to exit) in this final Big East season from all revenue sharing sources.

There is some thought that the Big 12 won't go beyond 10 schools now, because that would mean cutting the pie into more pieces. Don't buy that.

Should the Big 12 return not so many years down the road to 12 teams with Louisville and whoknowswho, it would stand to reason the Dallas-based conference could get renegotiated TV deals as the ACC and SEC are in moving from 12 to 14 schools - plus add a football title game for increased revenue as well.

And whether or not the Big 12 expands again, don't expect a Texas or Oklahoma to go any place else. Just as the schools have signed over their TV rights to the conference for six years, the word is that WVU and its fellow nine members would now extend that grant of rights through the 13-year length of those contracts.

The pending ESPN/ABC extension, combined with the Fox secondary rights, put the Big 12 in a telecast revenue league with the top deals.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten each are paying approximately $21 million in TV revenue to members, with the SEC likely getting a hike soon from its $18 million per team after adding Missouri and Texas A&M.

The ACC, even with the expansion with Pitt and Syracuse, is expected to be only in the $14-15 million range per team after its 12-year, $1.86 billion deal redone. So, the Big 12 has jumped ahead of that.

The Big East's $200 million (total, including football and basketball) with ESPN/ABC runs out after next season. The conference will get a much better deal, but it will be dividing that revenue with more than 12 football members and more than 16 basketball schools.

And it wasn't like West Virginia had a bunch of choices when it opted for Big 12 membership.

The ACC wasn't interested, and the SEC was a dream. The Pac-12?

That meant staying in a Big East that is now trumpeting Memphis football and once-was-booted Temple as great additions, or trying mightily to get the Big 12 to really stretch its geography - which it did.

West Virginia and TCU will receive percentages of full revenue sharing for three years (50, 67, 84 percent) as they build Big 12 equity. The Mountaineers, once at a full share in 2015-16, also must pay back $1 million annually (for five years) on the Big 12 loan that helped fund the Big East divorce settlement.

However, even at those reduced dollars, West Virginia will still be in a different league in TV revenue that it has been or would be in future in the Big East.

There's also a plus in football in that WVU will no longer be playing all over the calendar. The Mountaineers mostly will be looking at traditional Football Saturdays, with the occasional Thursday night or Labor Day weekend Sunday game.

With the ESPN/ABC extension still in the works formally, WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck isn't discussing it. However, if he were to speak on it, his remarks could start with something like, "I told you so."

Contact Sports Editor Jack Bogaczyk at or 304-348-7949.


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