Forbes Ranks The Most Valuable Conferences: Big 12 Ranks FifthPosted by KoryCarpenter on January 17th, 2013
Call Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany a greedy businessman for caring more about the bottom line than tradition. Call him a savant for getting in front of the conference realignment fiasco by adding Nebraska before anyone had a chance to blink. However you feel, you can’t deny that the man knows how to run a conference. Forbes recently ranked the most valuable athletic conferences and the Big Ten came in at No. 1, ahead of the mighty SEC. While myself and probably many others were surprised to see the B1G on top, maybe we shouldn’t have been. The conference has a better balance of football and basketball powers than any other league. There are football blue bloods like Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State, and perennial basketball powers like Indiana, Michigan State and Ohio State. Here is how the top six power conferences fared:
- Big Ten: Total Income (bowl games + NCAA Tournament + television revenue): $310 Million
- Pac-12: $303 Million
- ACC: $293 Million
- SEC: $270 Million
- Big 12: $262 Million
- Big East: $94 Million
It should be noted that the SEC’s television revenue is about to get a huge boost when it receives a new TV deal soon. It will likely jump the conferences above it on the list and vault the league to No. 1 shortly afterward. But this is a Big 12 microsite, so that’s a different conversation for a different day. The Big 12’s $200 million yearly television revenue lags behind the SEC, ACC, and Big Ten, but as the article points out, it isn’t as bleak of a forecast as it may seem. With only 10 members on board, each school receives $20 million per year and is still allowed to negotiate and keep its own tier three television rights, which usually includes certain non-conference football and basketball games as well as Olympic sports. The Longhorn Network, for example, gives Texas an extra $15 million per year. Fifth out of the six major conferences isn’t the best spot to be in, but it’s a far cry from a year ago when nobody knew if the conference would even be around today. Successfully adding TCU and West Virginia after the departures of Missouri and Texas A&M were key for the conference’s survival, and while time will tell if the two schools were the best available options, the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ rings in the background. With its television deal in place and schools making great money, the conference is not in as much in danger of being preyed upon as, for example, the ACC is right now. Maryland will bolt to the Big Ten soon while Florida State and Clemson have been rumored to be interested in the Big 12. It looks like the ACC will have 14 members next season if both schools remain in tow, though, as Pittsburgh and Syracuse will join the league.
But for the Big 12, it now gets to be selective. The TCU and West Virginia admissions were made out of necessity. Now, instead of asking themselves, “What do we have to do to survive” (answer: add a Mountain West football-only school and a school 800 miles from anyone else in the league), school presidents and ADs can say, “which schools, if any, increase our bottom line of $20 million per season?” Because with a $200 million television deal, adding two schools to reach 12 teams would need to increase the deal to $240 million per season just to keep the status quo. Then there’s this article from CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd: Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the conference “could be proactive [in conference alignment], I think.” Dodd mentions Florida State and Clemson as potential candidates if the Big 12 becomes interested. As Dodd notes, Florida State and Maryland were the only schools not to vote for the $50 million exit fee, and then there was Coach K yesterday, going on quite a rant on his radio show about Maryland leaving the ACC. It could be a coincidence that he brought up realignment the right around the time Bowlsby made his comment. It could just be a bitter coach lamenting the death of a traditional rivalry. Or Krzyzewski might be hearing things behind closed doors, because if anyone is hearing things behind the scenes, it would be a guy like him. Regardless of what happens, though, the Big 12 is in a good spot to improve on its Forbes ranking.