Big 12 Conference Closes In On New ESPN/Fox Contract

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 10: Texas Christian University sophomore Zach Boring (L), and freshman Laura Dunn raise a Big XII Conference banner before a press conference in which TCU accepted an invention to join the Big XII on October 10, 2011 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)

It's all about football and the television revenue. That's what we've been told and sold for the last three or so years as the conference realignment frenzy has ensued. Now that the dust has somewhat settled, for now, it appears the Big 12 is ready to leverage what they have and secure the future of the conference for a substantial amount of time.

Dennis Dodd with CBSSports.com is reporting that the Big 12 has verbally agreed to terms with ESPN and Fox with regards to media rights.

The deal is expected to be the one reported by CBSSports.com on March 13 worth a combined $2.6 billion with ESPN and Fox. The 13-year deal is projected to be worth $200 million annually to the conference (an average of $20 million per school) through 2025. For the moment, the Big 12 enters the stratosphere of the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten, all of which are near or above the $200 million per year mark.

As stated in the quote, the deal puts the Big 12 on par with the rest of the major conference players for the time being and with the deal covering the next 13 years, it would seem to provide some much needed stability to the league.

One other important piece that has changed since the initial terms were announced is the grant of rights aspect that was previously set at six years. The new expectation is that the league will agree to a 13 year grant of rights by all schools which binds the league together for the duration of the contract whereas the six year grant seemed to leave the league in question beyond a small window of stability.

One other interesting note from the article is the possibility of expansion. Dodd makes it sound as if new Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will explore that opportunity with any additions needing to hold the value of the deal near the $20 million per institution mark. That could be a challenge given what's left on the table, but Louisville continues to float to the top of the conversation.

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