SBD/January 21, 2011/Colleges

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  • UT's Network Revenues Could Throw Off Competitive Balance Of Big 12

    Network revenue will create big disparity between Texas, other Big 12 teams

    The Univ. of Texas will earn more than $12M a year as part of its deal with ESPN and IMG College to develop a network dedicated to the school, but a "disparity in revenues as great as this portends can't be good" for the "long-term health" of the Big 12, according to Kevin Sherrington of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. UT has "officially become the Yankees of college football, and everybody else in the Big 12 is scrambling to be the Royals." Even before the details of the network were unveiled Wednesday, the "prospects of holding the Big 12 together didn't look good," but "now it's just a matter of time." For UT, the "benefits will start immediately ... even if it takes a few years for Texas to break even on the expensive venture" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/21). In Omaha, Tom Shatel wrote UT "getting $15-17 million more per year than any other Big 12 school can't be good for competitive balance." The conference "becomes more like major league baseball and less like the all-for-one Big 10 or SEC" (OMAHA.com, 1/19). ESPN Senior VP/College Sports Programming Burke Magnus Wednesday said ESPN "will look proactively at ways to work with all the Big 12 schools to have this network benefit all of them as well." But in Houston, David Barron writes that is the "one statement" he has "yet to figure out." Barron: "It's a little hard for me to imagine how Missouri, for example, is going to benefit from the $12 million or so that Texas will rake in from ESPN each year. About the only thing I can come up with is related to the fact that the Big 12, as part of its new TV agreement that will take effect in 2012, will allow each school to retain one game for which it can arrange its own distribution" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/21).

    SLIPPERY SLOPE: In Tulsa, John Klein writes, "One can debate whether this deal will be good for the Big 12 in the long run. But, there is no debate that everyone in the league was well aware of the consequences of giving Texas the rights to form its own television deal." This "latest move to form its own television deal probably is not the end of the deals for the Horns." UT is "going to demand more of everything." The school will "want more of the network television deal with ABC and ESPN," and it will "want more of the bowl revenue and NCAA Tournament payouts." UT "may eventually want a bigger slice of the pie from the Big 12 Tournaments in all sports from men's basketball to baseball to golf" (TULSA WORLD, 1/21). Meanwhile, in Ft. Worth, Ray Buck notes both UT and ESPN "caution not to read anything into the Longhorns turning 'independent' down the road" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/21).

    RECRUITING ADVANTAGE? SI.com's Michael Rosenberg noted the network is likely to "feature coverage of high school games." Rosenberg: "Of course Texas will try to get the best high school games, featuring the best recruits, on its television network. That is what viewers want, and it's what benefits UT. Don't you think Texas will get a recruiting advantage by putting certain high school games on its network? Will high school coaches steer kids to Texas in the hopes of getting their games on TV?" (SI.com, 1/20).

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