Big 12 has a record revenue of $426 million
IRVING, Texas — The Big 12 Conference will distribute a record $426 million in revenue to its 10 schools for the 2021-22 school year, an increase of nearly 25% over last year and 10 % more than its pre-pandemic peak.
“We’re in a very strong position today,” Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec, chairman of the Big 12 board, said Friday after spring meetings.
The Power Five league is set to see a roster change, which by next summer could have as many as 14 schools before settling to its original size of 12. It is also getting a new commissioner. Bob Bowlsby, commissioner since 2012, announced his retirement earlier this year and will remain until his replacement is appointed in mid-July.
Schovanec said the aim was to announce a new commissioner during the league’s football media days, scheduled for July 13 and 14. Schovanec, one of three university leaders on the executive search committee, provided few details on the process but said things were on track to make a decision by then.
The Big 12 concluded its first in-person spring meetings since 2019, which was before the pandemic. That’s when the league reported revenue of $388 million for the school year ended. That figure was $345 million last June.
Big 12 revenue grew 13 straight years before the pandemic, prompting the cancellation of NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and all spring sports championships in 2020. Shortened football season followed that fall, with restricted fan access that carried over into basketball season.
After its previous record distribution for the 2018-19 school year, the Big 12’s numbers initially slipped to $377 million in revenue for 2019-20 due to the pandemic.
“We clearly had some bumps in there, although … I think we’ve played all but about three football games and we’ve played all but about eight basketball games in 2021,” Bowlsby said. “And so we didn’t take as big a hit as it looked like we could have, when we were sitting in August 2020 and not even sure if we were even going to play football. … We came out of it better than we could have, that’s for sure.
Revenue is expected to rise again over the next two years, the final years of the league’s media rights deal with ESPN and Fox. It’s also a time when the league will add new members BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, likely all through next summer, with powerhouse programs Oklahoma and Texas leaving for the Southeastern Conference no later than July 1, 2025. – and maybe sooner.
While the Big 12 will lose its only two national soccer champions, the four additions will spread the league across eight states and three time zones.
“The financial aspects are very important for the health and vitality of our sports programs. We know that. And that’s why what we do beyond 24-25 is going to be so important,” Schovanec said. “We recognize that the way this inventory will be distributed will change. … We are all analyzing how we are going to move forward. And I think a lot of that will depend on the relationships we develop with our new media partners. This will be one of the priorities of the new commissioner once this person is in place.
Remarks: The Big 12 has extended its agreement to hold its basketball championships in Kansas City for two years until the 2027 tournaments. Starting in 2024, the women’s and men’s tournaments will be held back-to-back in the same arena, rather than simultaneously in different sites in the city center as they are now. … The Big 12’s board of directors, made up of school presidents and chancellors, has voted to rename its sportsmanship award the Bowlsby Award in honor of the outgoing commissioner.