Senior Columnist

Big East deal could be worth as little as $60 million per year

A new Big East primary TV rights deal might be worth only $60 million-$80 million per year, multiple sources have told

It is believed that the league went into negotiations estimating its rights' worth as significantly higher than $100 million per year.

It is no secret that the league's existence might hinge on that value of that TV deal. It is known that Houston has a provision in its pending deal with the Big East that it can get out of its agreement without penalty if certain revenue projections aren't achieved. Each incoming Big East member has negotiated its own deal regarding conference withdrawl, sources told

For example, Boise State can reduce its buyout to leave the Big East if there is a drop of 25 percent in current aggregate total revenue. Also, Boise State can have that fee reduced if less than 70 percent of the new TV contract goes to football. Houston, San Diego State, Boise State and SMU, among others, enter the Big East on July 1. Commissioner Mike Aresco said TV negotiations are ongoing and put no date on their completion.

The league recently moved quickly to add Tulane and East Carolina after losing Rutgers and Louisville. That gives the league 15 football-playing schools when Navy joins in 2015. Using the figures described above, that would mean the average payout per school of $4 million-$5.3 million per year.

Under its current deal, Big East schools are earning $4 million per year in primary rights fees. In comparison, the Pac-12 is splitting approximately $250 million per year among its 12 institutions.

Aresco said Thursday there are “six media companies” that want to deal with the Big East. Some of those are easily identifiable -- ESPN, Fox, Turner -- but one source close to the situation said an emerging technology company like Google could be involved.

Boise State, San Diego State and BYU reportedly have contacted the Mountain West in the event the Big East becomes unstable. BCS commissioners have established the “framework” for revenue distribution in the new playoff era beginning in 2014. That year the Big East will be among the so-called Group of Five -- along with the MAC, Conference USA, Mountain West and Sun Belt -- that will compete for an automatic spot among the available playoff bowl slots. reported earlier that Big East members were told by former commissioner John Marinatto that a new contract would be worth $10 million-$20 million more (per year per school) than what the Big East is currently getting. That was before instability and defections affected the conference.

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