The Big 12 announced it paid an average of $25.2 million to each of its members for last year, a new conference high. That's shy of the SEC's announced $31.2 million per school figure and of the projected Big Ten shares, but it's enough to help keep the Big 12 comfortably in the top three in total revenue per school.
(Another reason is that Texas almost always tops the country in revenue, but every conference has heavyweights and lightweights.)
When Big 12 expansion talk popped back up, thanks to Oklahoma president David Boren saying he'd prefer to add two teams, many presumed an expanded Big 12 would have to cut 10 revenue slices into 12. If you added two full shares to that $252 million, that'd be $4.2 million less per team. That's more than the head coach's salary at most schools.
But as Boren noted and Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby confirmed, the Big 12's TV deal increases proportionally if the conference adds bodies. While TV's just one part, it's by far the biggest.
Bowlsby confirms pro rata clause in TV contracts would match shares if league expands. But revenue from NCAA, CFP would be split more ways.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) June 25, 2015
Let's run through how much expansion would cost each school.
Annual TV revenue cost per school: $0
Big 12 members get about $20 million each per year from the conference's ESPN/FOX Sports deal. Expansion won't decrease anybody's cut during this TV deal, assuming Bowlsby's correct and there aren't stipulations we've yet to find out about. (Also, adding markets like Cincinnati or Orlando could help the next TV deal.)
Annual Playoff revenue cost per school: About $1 million in 2014
Per FOX Sports, the Big 12 shared more Playoff money per school than any other conference, with a $6.4 million average per school. The only number close is the 12-team Pac-12's $5.8 million.
In 2014, a 12-team Big 12 could've shared $5.4 million with each, or $1 million less than it did.
Here's where you also note a 12-team Big 12 could've had a conference title game and given Baylor or TCU a chance at a 13th game, thus maybe making the Playoff.
Annual NCAA revenue cost per school: About $350,000, give or take
The Big 12 tends to be among the leaders in NCAA Tournament payouts, which are based on participation and wins. But even March Madness money is minor for the power conferences. It's been about 10 percent of the Big 12's revenue, higher than other powers but much less than most non-powers.
The top six conferences average about $20 million per year. A 10-team Big 12 earning that could pay about $2 million to each school, while a 12-team conference could pay about $1.67 million.
NCAA and Playoff money will go up annually, but we should also assume the TV contract escalates annually as well.
No matter what, Texas is fine
No matter what, Texas is fine
Annual cost of expansion: As much as $1.3 to $1.8 million per school, for the moment ... but wait!
A few things that could offset that:
- If a new team were to have hoops success. For example, Cincinnati's made five straight tourneys; duplicating that going forward would earn each Big 12 member about $110,000 for a year.
- More teams likely means more bowl ties. If a new team makes bowl games, those payouts go into the conference pot. Last year, the average power-conference haul for a non-New Year's Six bowl meant about $180,000 for each school in a 12-team league.
- A Big 12 championship would make money. The Big Ten's reportedly makes about $24 million in TV revenue per year; a $20 million deal for the Big 12's could mean about $1.67 million per school.
Add those up, and all 12 Big 12 schools could break even at worst.
And if that's not enough to offset, would any remaining cost be worth it to open up two recruiting markets, add a conference championship without needing NCAA rule changes, expand the brand footprint, and possibly pick up two decent TV markets?