College athletics’ money gap
The SEC/ Big 12 Challenge is here to stay.
Each conference and ESPN announced they had reached a deal to extend what’s become one of college basketball’s signature regular-season events for six more years through the 2024-25 season.
The annual event is in its sixth year this season, and held games on Saturday. TCU took on Florida at Schollmaier Arena in an early game, winning 55-50.
Count TCU coach Jamie Dixon among those in favor of the event. Dixon said it’s more difficult than most may believe in scheduling home-and-home series with Power Five programs.
“I won’t have to do a lot of phone calls,” Dixon said, smiling. “It’s hard. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to line up a home-and-home with Power Fives.
“This really it takes care of it. I think it’s terrific.”
Dixon added that there’s a sense of pride within each conference to show which is a basketball powerhouse. In fact, Saturday marked the first time Dixon told his team how important it is to win from a big-picture view of the Big 12.
“In our minds, this was a huge game [against Florida],” Dixon said. “Florida is a big-name team. There’s not many teams with national championships and they’ve got multiple.
“We can’t keep going around telling everybody how good our conference is, best conference in the country, and then come up short in this thing. So we did our part. I’m proud of that.”
The event matches all 10 of the Big 12 members against 10 of the 14 programs from the SEC. Each conference hosts five of the 10 games.
“The extension of this preeminent basketball series assures our teams and fans high quality intersectional match-ups for years to come,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “We are pleased to continue our partnership with the SEC and ESPN to deliver these games for the next six years.”
Said Nick Dawson, ESPN’s vice president of programming and acquisitions: “We’re thrilled to continue partnering on this unique event with the Big 12 and SEC. To have teams from two premier conferences square off on one day during the heart of conference play makes for a special event on the college basketball calendar every year.”