Big 12 university leaders agreed to share the wealth equally from the conference’s most lucrative television deals if its members agree to lock those top-tier TV rights into the league for at least six years.
The league’s announcement Monday was an encouraging sign for the long-term health of the conference, but it is no done deal.
Missouri is considering leaving the Big 12, possibly for the Southeastern Conference, and the university’s board of curators is scheduled to meet today in St. Louis.
Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas hopes the approval by the presidents and chancellors of equal revenue sharing and a grant of tier-one and tier-two TV rights to the league will help convince Missouri to stay instead of joining Texas A&M; in the SEC.
“In an objective view, this should be a positive sign for Missouri,” Neinas said during a teleconference with reporters.
Neinas said he plans to visit with Missouri officials this week, but not before today’s curators’ meeting.
Neinas said Missouri should consider its long-standing rivalry with Kansas, the Kansas City-based Big 12 basketball tournaments and the close proximity between Columbia to other Big 12 schools.
“It’s one thing to talk about the Southeastern Conference, but how many people are going to be able to afford to travel to Gainesville, Fla., or Columbia, S.C., or Tuscaloosa, Ala.,” Neinas said. “You know, John Q. Fan, he can get in the car and drive to Big 12 games.
“Besides, Missouri is midwestern, not southern.”
The revenue-sharing model had been proposed by Texas several weeks ago, but was waiting for a vote by league presidents.
Neinas said that school leaders, who make up the Big 12 Board of Directors, voted unanimously in favor of it on Sunday.
Each school must still approve the granting of TV rights, and that’s where the Missouri curators come in.
The Big 12 also plans to move forward with expansion plans, apparently regardless of what Missouri decides.
Neinas said the Big 12’s expansion committee has been “activated” and will start meeting sometime this week. Neinas said the league has been encouraged by the amount of interest other schools have shown in the Big 12.
Neinas said the move toward sharing TV rights for football and men’s basketball will help the league’s expansion efforts and pointed to the 13-year, $1 billion television deal reached with Fox Sports in April.
Neinas said the conference has no timetable on expansion, though the league’s athletic directors must still come to a consensus on what approach they want to take.
“We have some things in mind that I’m not prepared to reveal at this point, but we’re working in a very positive way toward improving what is already a good conference,” Neinas said.