For many, many years, the West Virginia University department of intercollegiate athletics was in search of two things - access and financial security. On Friday it got both when the Big 12 formally announced its landmark $2.6 billion deal with ESPN and Fox that will give those two networks the league’s television rights for the next 13 years.
“I want to thank Chuck Neinas and current commissioner Bob Bowlsby for their work and effort in getting the Big 12 television agreement done,” said West Virginia University director of athletics Oliver Luck. “This is a strong television package and brings great exposure and financial rewards to the Big 12 and its members.”
“The distributable revenue to the 10 members of our league is going to be consistent with the very highest in all of collegiate athletics,” added Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby earlier today on Big12Sports.com.
The Big 12’s board of directors approved the agreement during a teleconference earlier this morning.
“I think stability is the biggest significance of it,” said Bowlsby. “And it’s also the appearance of stability. We have been very pleased with the mutual commitment our members have made to one another over the last six months, but I don’t think that’s the public perception. This helps to substantiate the public perception.”
“The joint television agreement with two highly acclaimed national media partners speaks to the strength, success and stability of the Big 12 Conference,” Luck said. “This TV package places the Big 12 among the highest, in per-member revenue, and West Virginia looks forward to being a proud member of the league, not only in our inaugural season but for years to come.”
According to Bowlsby, this finalized agreement will provide the most exposure in conference history, benefitting all sports across the board.
“Big 12 exposure will be better than ever before and it will be better for every institution in our league,” he said. “We are a vibrant organization, we are moving forward together, and in the process we are going to have some unprecedented exposure.
“It is important to note that our basketball products for both women and men, and our Olympic sports, will be tremendously more exposed than they’ve been in the past,” Bowlsby added. “This will allow our institutions to have a much broader national profile than they were afforded before.”
The process to finalize the agreement took about six months since word first came out last spring that a new TV contract was in the works, and Bowlsby said the time it took to reach this day was simply a matter of crossing all of the Ts and dotting all of the Is.
“There are issues of substance and there are issues of form and we’ve had to work our way through all of those things. Now we can look forward to some additional opportunities,” he concluded.Check out Antonik's new book The Backyard Brawl: Stories from One of the Weirdest, Wildest, Longest Running, and Most Intense Rivalries in College Football History now available in bookstores. A portion of the sales benefit the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. Also, be sure to "Like" the new Backyard Brawl Facebook page and tell us your personal WVU-Pitt story.