The Big East initially sought $300 million annually for its combined rights fees from ESPN during an exclusive negotiating period in the fall, CBSSports.com has learned.
The figure would have been the largest annual fee ever paid to a conference. That's probably the reason why the figure was dismissed by ESPN, which allowed the exclusive negotiating window to expire. Per terms of the agreement, once that window expires the rightsholder (Big East) has to give the rights buyer (ESPN) a final offer. Only if that offer is rejected can the Big East seek rights for the amount of that final offer or higher.
The Pac-12 is believed to have the largest annual rights-fee payout, $250 million.
The Big East was seeking $300 million for a 15-team league scattered across the country that would have included Navy by 2015. However, the Big East continues to seek a TV suitor for the diminished league that has lost the Catholic 7 in basketball and Louisville in all sports since the exclusive window expired.
CBSSports.com reported in early December that rights for the league were worth only $60 million-$80 million per year. Days later, the Catholic 7 broke away to form a basketball-only conference.
San Diego State is the latest flashpoint in the Big East drama. The school is trying to decide whether it wants to go back to the Mountain West or stay with the Big East. San Diego State is due to join the Big East officially on July 1.
Per terms of Boise State's new agreement with the Mountain West, if the league adds a 12th school by Jan. 31, it must be San Diego State.
“I would like to have a resolution sooner rather than later,” Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson said. “I know Mike [Aresco of the Big East] would too.”
The Mountain West “tore up” his 2013 football schedule last week when Boise State re-joined the league. It needs to know conference membership fairly quickly so that it can assemble a schedule for TV rightsholders.
The Big East is still negotiating with various networks.