University of Oklahoma President David Boren, left, laughs as Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby listens as they speak to reporters after the second day of the Big 12 sports conference meetings in Irving, Texas, Thursday, June 2, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

BEVO BEAT Football

Report: ESPN, Fox executives pushing back against Big 12 expansion

TV executives believe that adding teams from the Group of Five waters down the Big 12's overall TV value

Posted August 1st, 2016

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Up to this point, Big 12 expansion has energized fans and kept school administrators hopping. The other interested parties may not be happy at all.

ESPN and Fox executives are pushing back against Big 12 expansion, according to Sports Business Journal. TV executives believe that if the Big 12 added any of the schools from the so-called Group of Five, then the Big 12’s overall television contract becomes less valuable.

However if the league did expand, there are already rules in place in the current TV contract that allows new members to receive a pro rata share of increased revenue.

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in July, “We wouldn’t have to renegotiate.” League officials believe expansion only triggers contractual financial clauses the TV executives already agreed to. 

Fueled mostly by TV revenue, the Big 12 paid its current members $30.4 million each for the 2015-16 academic year. By adding new members, it’s conceivable that TV networks would have to kick in additional $20 million more per school.

“Both networks, according to sources, are digging their heels in against paying those kinds of increases based on expansion with schools outside the power five,” according to Sports Business Journal, a publication with an established history of covering sports media.

The possible schools most discussed are Cincinnati, Houston, BYU, Connecticut and Memphis.

The current Big 12 TV contract runs through the 2024-25 school year. Sources affiliated with the University of Texas have told the American-Statesman that UT is not interested in extending its first- and second-tier grant of rights beyond that year.

Big 12 schools have the option to sell their third-tier TV rights on the open market. That allowed for the creation of Longhorn Network, a deal with ESPN worth $15 million annually to the Longhorns.

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