Analysis: Agreement helps bolster stability of Big 12

Published: Monday, Oct. 5 2015 10:01 p.m. MDT

PROVO — How does a Big 12 equal-distribution plan affect BYU if the Cougar athletic program is a prime candidate to join the BCS league, as many have speculated?

Well, if BYU does not plan to join the Big 12, it matters not at all.

But if BYU has an eye on joining the Big 12 if and when it expands, Monday's agreement by the nine institutions goes a long way to show greater stability in a league that has lost Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M in the course of 13 months.

Big 12 stability is a concern of any potential new member.

Thing is, BYU continues its silence as to if it is interested in Big 12 membership and has refused to confirm if the Big 12 has tendered an invitation, or if any Big 12 officials have been on campus.

BYU is consistent in its strategy to keep its inner workings out of media speculation.

In related news, interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas told reporters a committee designed to spearhead questions of expansion will meet this week, but it has not yet been decided if the Big 12 will stay with nine teams or expand to 10, 14 or even 12.

Neinas, who replaced Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, told reporters on Monday the Big 12 presidents now know who is on board to stay in the Big 12. When asked if the league could make offers to other schools, Neinas answered: "That's a good question, and I think the answer is yes."

The Big 12 expansion committee is chaired by Kansas State president Kirk Schulz, with another president, Burns Hargis of Oklahoma State, on the committee. The two athletic directors on this committee are DeLoss Dodds of Texas and Joe Castiglione of Oklahoma.

Once this committee investigates expansion and potential candidates, it is the decision of Big 12 presidents to actually expand.

Monday's agreement will take effect once each of the current nine schools commits to grant TV rights to football and basketball broadcasts to equal distribution for the next six years.

The agreement mandates shared revenue from Tier I and Tier II television contracts. Tier 1 would include nationally televised games on broadcast networks such as ABC, CBS, NBA or Fox. All cable football, ESPN basketball and Big 12 network games that are produced by ESPN Regional are considered Tier II.

Tier III are locally televised games, as would be the case in Utah with the Utes on a local Salt Lake City station, and each league team would keep those rights. In the Big 12, the controversial Longhorn Network would be considered a Tier III operation, as would BYUtv if BYU were to be added to the Big 12.

Prior to this agreement, TV money was distributed based on television appearances, with the larger check for teams televised more frequently, such as Texas.

This agreement is expected to keep Missouri from seeking membership in the SEC. Missouri's governing board of curators is reportedly meeting today to discuss this new agreement and conference expansion.

The Big 12 is said to have signed a Tier I and II rights agreement with ESPN/ABC and Fox, and the 13-year deal with Fox signed that was signed last April is believed to be worth $1 billion.

There are some that believe that deal with Fox may be in question since the Big 12 has now lost Texas A&M, thus the need for a replacement, not to mention revenue from a league football championship game in which the NCAA requires leagues to have 12 teams to legitimize the playoff.

BYU consistently keeps to its talking points delivered back in August when Big 12 expansion talk flared up with A&M's rumored defection.

"There is much speculation right now regarding conference affiliation that seems to change by the hour," read a statement from the university. "Commenting on such conjecture is not productive and creates a distraction for our program.

"As we enter the 2011-12 athletic season, BYU is focused on the opportunities ahead. We are excited about our relationship with ESPN as a football independent and our affiliation with the West Coast Conference. The university will have no further comment."

And, it has not.

email: dharmon@desnews.com

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