Photo provided by Utah Athletics
With the ensuing shuffle within the Big 12, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah are about to get a significant financial boost starting 2025. As per industry insiders, under the Big 12’s novel six-year $2.3 billion Grant of Rights deal with ESPN and FOX, these schools are slated to rake in a hefty $31.7 million in media rights revenue annually – an amount exclusive of other league revenue from platforms such as the College Football Playoff.
Full Big 12 Revenue Share
As we edge closer to this grand transition, the year 2024 holds pivotal fiscal significance for these institutions. It has been suggested that during this transitional period, the three schools will also receive a full Big 12 revenue share. This is estimated to hover around a solid $42 million – a handsome sum that is expected to eventually escalate.
A Peak at 2025
Fast forward to 2025, the fiscal landscape for these schools is anticipated to be even more lucrative. Industry sources hint at a possible “all-in” figure of around $50 million per school on an annual basis. The forthcoming years indeed appear bright for these institutions as they align themselves with the Big 12’s grandiose vision.
The Cost of Early Exit
The situation is no different for AAC schools like SMU, who would inevitably face double the monetary damage – a whopping $20 million exit fee – permitting they fail to provide the required 27 months’ notice. The coming years will undoubtedly be intriguing as these universities juggle between fiscal ambitions and logistical hurdles.
Expansion to the West
In the landscape of Power 5 conference expansions over the past dozen years, the Utes of Utah have distinguished themselves as the undisputed success story. They stand alone as the only ones to capture a conference title game among schools that have joined a Power 5 conference. Notably, they have achieved back-to-back titles in the Pac-12. Big 12 commissioner, Yormark, who assumed the role last summer, has been unambiguous about his desire for the Big 12 to expand West. This strategic expansion is a part of his agenda to add value to the league and integrate a fourth time zone into the conference sphere.
As part of his strategic moves to secure the future of the conference, Yormark applied an aggressive approach by sealing an early Grant of Rights arrangement with sports broadcast titans ESPN and FOX. This move, which was initiated two years before the expiration of the current league deal in 2025, provided a safety net for the Big 12 conference that found itself on the losing end with Oklahoma and Texas decamping for the SEC. This strategic move unintentionally had an adverse effect on the Pac-12’s media rights value.
The then Pac-8 welcomed Arizona and Arizona State into its fold in 1978, with both schools making the transition from the WAC, resulting in the formation of the Pac-10. In 2011, history repeated itself with the addition of Utah and Colorado from the Mountain West, resulting in the formation of the present-day Pac-12.
However, the potential loss of four of its ten remaining teams, along with potential further defections, threatens the value of any offers for Pac-12 media rights, according to industry insiders.
Significant Moves In College Athletics
In a bid to maintain stability in the Big 12 conference, key decisions are in progression. Escaping the perception of turmoil, certain colleges may consider jumping ship. By joining the ranks of the Big 12, the impact could turn the tide for the conference.
Robbins Takes the Lead
A recent meeting between Robbins and Michael Yormark, CEO of Roc Nation, focused on the potential shifting scenario. The dialogue circled around the chances of Arizona Wildcats making a move to the Big 12. This one-on-one discussion, occurring at the Final Four in Houston, is a notable marker in the sports world.
The Economical Front
In terms of monetary flow, Big 12 promises a whole new level of advantage for the membership schools. Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah have the potential to receive an estimated $31.7 million annually as media rights revenue. This hefty sum doesn’t even include added revenues from events like the College Football Playoff.
The kickoff of a new deal with prominent networks, ESPN and FOX, will further enhance financial benefits. Starting 2025, an impressive $2.3 billion Grant of Rights deal is set to be activated. Consequentially, the revenue share per school could skyrocket to $50 million annually.
The Future of the Pac-12 Conference
However, on the other end of the spectrum, the Pac-12 conference is witnessing a mass exodus of its schools. This shift could spell out monetary dilemmas and strategic hiccups for the said conference. In order to sustain, Pac-12 may need to scout suitable additions from the Group of Five. For instance, programs such as San Diego State that are looking to exit the Mountain West prior to 2024, would need to account for a hefty $34 million exit fee.
Yet, ditching the Mountain West for the Pac-12 is not a cakewalk. Schools transitioning before 2024 are liable to cough up a steep $34 million as exit fees. AAC schools are also looking at a doubled exit fee for falling short of the pre-set notice period.
The year 2024 promises extensive reshuffling. Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah officially join the Big 12 along with Colorado. Additionally, Oregon and Washington are set to migrate to the Big Ten. This period also marks Texas and Oklahoma’s initiation into the SEC. These significant switches coincide with the inception of the 12-team College Football Playoff.