Senior Columnist

Big 12 verbally agrees to new ESPN/Fox deal

Big 12 presidents have verbally agreed to a lucrative new media rights agreement, a source told

The deal is expected to be the one reported by on March 13 worth a combined $2.6 billion with ESPN and Fox. The 13-year deal is projected to be worth $200 million annually to the conference (an average of $20 million per school) through 2025. For the moment, the Big 12 enters the stratosphere of the Pac-12, SEC and Big Ten, all of which are near or above the $200 million per year mark.

Expected to be announced along with the new deal is an extension of the league's grant of rights. League CEOs had previously agreed to a six-year grant of rights that would allow the conference to keep a school's television rights if it left for a new league. The expectation is that the new grant of rights will be 13 years to match the TV deal. That provision essentially binds the at-times contentious league together for the term of the agreement.

The hiring last week of Bob Bowlsby as the new Big 12 commissioner has to be an indication that the TV announcement is near and the league is on stable ground.

Even though it has been nearly two months since the news of the deal broke, lawyers continue to work on details of the final contract. While there isn't expected to be a hang up, the source added that until the agreements are actually signed the deal is not official.

The Big 12's current deal with ESPN/ABC doesn't expire until 2016. That part of the agreement is being termed an extension that would “sync up” with a $1.2 billion, 13-year deal signed with Fox in April 2011.

The first order of business for Bowlsby is possible expansion. While there are few candidates available that would be worth $20 million annually to the contract, it is known that Louisville is interested in joining the league.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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February 24, 2017


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