MORGANTOWN - Most of what emerged from this week's Big 12 meetings in Kansas City was speculation and opinion, be it on expansion or the proposed structure of the forthcoming four-team college football playoff system.At the tail end of the meetings Friday, though, was something far more concrete - finances.The league announced that revenue sharing for the 2011-12 school year would be $19 million per school, and that's before television contract extensions with ABC/ESPN and Fox kick in. The number is a record for the conference.It was also a good sign for one of the league's two new members, even though West Virginia isn't even officially on board yet.
"It's probably a little bit higher than I thought it would be,'' WVU athletic director Oliver Luck said Friday. "I was expecting it to be in the $17 million range. We're obviously happy about it, even though we're not receiving any of it yet.''West Virginia, of course, won't receive any of that revenue sharing this year. The Mountaineers' share of revenue from its current league, the Big East, is expected to be in the $9 million range and that will be withheld as per the $20 million deal cut to allow WVU to leave the conference and join the Big 12 after June 30.West Virginia was included in the Big 12's 2011-12 bookkeeping, however. That's because the school received $10 million in the form of a loan to help pay the settlement with the Big East. As reported back in February, the Big 12 gave the money to WVU with half to be repaid with interest and the other half to be forgiven.That interest will be between 2 and 3 percent and the school will begin repaying the $5 million in annual $1 million installments in 2016, the first year WVU is fully vested in the league.Until that time, WVU will get partial shares of Big 12 revenue sharing - a 50 percent share in 2012-13, rising to 67 percent the next year, then 85 percent and a full 100 percent in 2015-16.
Still, as Friday's announcement of the Big 12 cuts show, even the smallest of those percentages is greater than what the school reaped from membership in the Big East. The expected $9 million share this year is actually on the high end as a matter of course, thanks to WVU's Orange Bowl appearance and recent success in NCAA basketball tournaments. All of that - bowl revenue, NCAA tournament credits, etc. - is included in the revenue sharing doled out by conferences.This year, the overall Big 12 revenue also included nearly $25 million in exit fees (paid as withheld revenue sharing) from Missouri and Texas A&M, which are going to the SEC.If Big 12 revenue sharing merely stays flat next year, West Virginia's 50 percent share would still be $9.5 million, or more than a full Big East share. But according to reports, the Big 12's new television contracts, one yet to be signed, will guarantee members $20 million per year just from television. Adding on bowl and NCAA tournament revenue will make it even more.All in all, it puts the league in the same neighborhood as the other power conferences. The Big Ten just announced its revenue sharing at $24.6 million per school, which includes more than $7 million from its own Big Ten Network. The SEC's revenue sharing for this year was announced Friday at $20.1 million."I think the important thing is that we're right up there with the other leagues,'' Luck said. "Everyone has a slightly different way in which they calculate things, but when you look at all the factors we're right there with the Pac-12 and the SEC and just about everyone else.''BRIEFLY: The Big 12 also announced Friday that it has extended its agreement to hold the league's annual basketball tournament at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The tournament will now be held there through at least the 2015-16 season.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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