Big 12 administrators took the final step Friday to guarantee “one true champion” in football, formally adopting a tiebreaker to eliminate co-champions on the same day the league announced record-setting revenue distributions of $252 million, a 14.5 percent increase over last year.
The 10 members received between $23 million and $27 million per school, based on league distribution formulas, commissioner Bob Bowlsby said at the conclusion of the Big 12’s spring meetings.
Bowlsby said TCU received “almost $24 million” in distributions, the highest figure in school history and slightly more than the $23 million given to West Virginia, the league’s other third-year member waiting to receive its first full share of league revenues during the 2015-16 school year.
TCU and West Virginia each received 85 percent shares for this year as part of a four-year phase-in process for members, with TCU’s payday trumping West Virginia’s for the 2014-15 school year because of the Horned Frogs’ participation in a College Football Playoff access bowl.
On the football front, the tweak to tiebreaker bylaws formalized by Friday’s vote of Big 12 presidents was approved earlier this month by league football coaches and athletic directors during a two-day meeting in Phoenix.
The primary change, made to enhance efforts in landing a participant in the CFP’s four-team playoff bracket, states that the head-to-head winner of the game between two teams tied atop the Big 12 final standings will be declared the league champion, with only one trophy awarded.
When the 2014 race ended in a deadlock between TCU and Baylor, both schools were declared co-champions and both schools received trophies. But the “co-champion” designation hurt the teams in deliberations by members of the CFP selection committee, who left both co-champs out of their field in the race to determine last year’s national champion.
That omission led to Friday’s formal approval of the tiebreaker tweak on the same day Bowlsby announced record-setting revenues for league members.
But the Big 12’s numbers paled in comparison to what SEC schools received Friday in the first year of revenue distributions with earnings from the first-year SEC Network. SEC officials announced distributions of $455.8 million, or $31.2 million per school, to its 14 members Friday in Destin, Fla.
“I think it’s proof positive that networks are good,” Bolwsby said, reflecting on the SEC’s 48.6 percent spike in distributions over last year’s per-team average of $20.9 million per school.
Big 12 officials were quick to stress that the financial figures for their league, unlike the SEC numbers, do not include the television revenue from minor sports. Bowlsby said Big 12 schools receive between $15 million (Texas/Longhorn Network) and $2 million from televising sports other than football and men’s basketball.
Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis, head of the Big 12’s board of directors, liked Bowlsby’s projection that Big 12 schools will receive $44 million per year in distributions for the 2024-25 school year, the last under existing television rights agreements.
“We’re very pleased with the revenue figure. I think we’re in a very good place financially,” Hargis said. “The disparity, I don’t think, is near what that looks like [compared to SEC distributions]. As long as our student-athletes are getting the facilities and the academic support and the full-cost-of-attendance dollars, I think we’ll be able to compete just fine. And I don’t think our fans will question that.”
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760
Big 12 distributions