Big 12 announces new TV deal with Fox

Last summer, with conference realignment threatening the existence of the Big 12, commissioner Dan Beebe expressed supreme confidence and unwavering optimism in his ability to secure a television deal that would keep the conference together.

Wednesday, Beebe and the Big 12 announced an agreement with FOX on a 13-year TV deal that will put the Big 12 on par with any conference in the country.

“This landmark agreement positions the conference with one of the best television arrangements in collegiate sports,” Beebe said. “It exceeds the benchmarks as we move forward with our 10 members by providing significant revenue growth (and) increased exposure. Most importantly, the agreement signifies the long-term commitment of the member institutions to one another.”

During a conference call Wednesday, Beebe conceded that the conference’s long-term stability always would have its critics. However, with the new deal in place, it’s safe to say none of those critics reside within the conference.

“This is a great day, not only for KU, but also for all the members of the Big 12,” KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said. “This agreement makes evident the strength of this conference, and we are pleased and proud to proceed into the future together with our nine conference partners.”

Added KU football coach Turner Gill: “This is a phenomenal agreement for all of the institutions of the Big 12 Conference. It is appropriate, at this time, to praise Commissioner Dan Beebe, chancellors, presidents, athletic directors and FOX for making a solid, long-term commitment to KU and all of the schools of the Big 12.”

Though the conference did not release the financial terms of the deal, it has been reported the deal includes annual revenue of $90 million for the league, which far surpasses the $20 million annual haul of the old deal, which expires after the 2011-12 season.

“In the total context of media arrangements, we think we’re in as favorable position as any conference in the country,” Beebe said.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione even went as far as to say that the Big 12 now was in an enviable position.

“Through this agreement, the Big 12 institutions will generate per-member revenue at the highest levels in college athletics,” Castiglione said. “FOX has been a long-time quality partner of our conference, so continuing with them was an easy call.”

The new deal provides FOX — FX, Fox Sports Network (FSN) and Fox College Sports (FCS) — the exclusive rights to televise a minimum of 40 regular-season Big 12 football games, which nearly doubles the number allowed under the current agreement. Beebe said every conference football game would be available to fans in some form. The deal also allows each university the freedom to explore creation of its own network, a la Texas, or, perhaps, to join together to create a conference network, like the Big Ten.

One other key issue addressed Wednesday was the idea of a few Big 12 South schools earning a larger portion of the pie, a promise that was agreed upon as a way to entice those schools searching for greener pastures to stick with the Big 12.

“With the revenue that’s coming in, it looks like it will make that issue moot in 2012 and beyond,” said Beebe, indicating that the new revenue numbers exceed what those schools were promised. “This agreement, by unanimous vote and having the institutions commit to a long-term agreement, is a demonstration of what was stated last summer. It’s something we felt all along was the direction people had committed to, but now there’s even more clear demonstration.”