Lincoln, Neb. — The Big 12 will become a 10-team league next year after all in the wake of agreements Tuesday that require Nebraska and Colorado to forfeit a combined $16 million in conference payouts.
Nebraska, which joins the Big Ten on July 1, will surrender a maximum of $9.25 million.
Colorado gets to move to the Pac-10 in 2011 instead of 2012 after negotiating a deal in which it will give up $6.86 million.
The Big 12, under its bylaws, originally had sought to withhold 80 percent of Nebraska and Colorado’s actual slice of the conference payout for 2009-10 and their projected distribution for 2010-11. That would have been an estimated $19.4 million for Nebraska and at least $15 million for Colorado.
The settlements, negotiated separately, allow Nebraska and Colorado to make clean breaks and avoid having the matter settled in court.
Nebraska and Colorado officials initially said their schools shouldn’t be required to pay anything because the league was on the verge of collapsing when they struck deals with the Big Ten and Pac-10 in June.
Texas and four other schools had talked to the Pac-10 before Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe convinced them to stay in a 10-team league. Nebraska and Colorado challenged the bylaws, saying their moves were based on unstable circumstances that they did not create.
“I think everybody knew there was going to be a dispute,” Beebe said in a teleconference Tuesday night. “They were firm in their positions, we were firm in ours, and we worked out the compromise.”
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said he still believes he had a strong argument against giving up any money.
“I’m also cognizant of the risks associated with litigation. What I think is the law may not turn out to be the law,” he said. “I’m disappointed, as an academic, that my curiosity about the legal claims won’t be resolved. But when you look at everything, I think it made sense in this setting to get this behind us and avoid the risks of litigation.”
Nebraska can reduce its penalty to $8.755 million if the Cornhuskers are one of two Big 12 teams to play in a BCS bowl game this season. The league already is guaranteed one BCS spot.
Perlman said the BCS condition was negotiated because Nebraska would be creating a $4 million to $5 million windfall for the Big 12 if it and another conference team make it to the high-profile bowl games.
”We feel the long-term benefits of entering into the Big Ten, both academically and athletically, will make this a very good investment,” athletic director Tom Osborne said.
The Big Ten distributed $22 million to each of its schools last year. Over the past four years Nebraska received approximately $10 million annually in revenues from the Big 12.
The latest figures show the Pac-10 paid its members between $7-$11.5 million. With the additions of Colorado and Utah, the league expects those figures to almost double when it negotiates new televisions deals next year.
Conference distributions are divided among member schools mostly from revenues derived from football and men’s basketball television contracts, bowl games and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Attorneys for the Big 12 and Pac-10 have been negotiating an exit strategy for Colorado for weeks. Both school leaders and Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott had said they were skeptical about the Buffaloes joining the Pac-10 in 2011. It seemed 2012 was the likely time for CU to join its new league.
“Our plans all along were for them to join the conference in 2012 so this puts the Pac-12 ahead of schedule, which is great news,” Scott said in a statement released by CU. “With Colorado and Utah coming on board next year we are tremendously excited about the future of the conference.”
Colorado’s board of regents authorized the deal Tuesday night, a few hours after the Big 12 announced its deal with Nebraska.
Beebe said Big 12 leaders would meet next month to discuss how the money withheld from Nebraska and Colorado would be distributed among the 10 remaining members.