COLUMBIA – After reaffirming its commitment to the Big 12, Missouri has put its faith in the conference’s pledge to bring it increased revenue.
In what MU Chancellor Brady Deaton described as a “responsible decision,” the university now waits to find out just how much it will earn from a new television contract promised by Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe.
“The revenue projections related to the current and potential conference payoffs have the potential to become the second-highest in the nation and will enable us to sustain and build a stronger athletic program,” Deaton said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon with UM System President Gary Forsee and Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden.
The chance for a more lucrative payout for the school now rests with Beebe’s ability to come through with his promise.
The new television contract has yet to be finalized, but Alden said Beebe, his staff and consultants have given the 10 remaining Big 12 schools every confidence that the new package will increase both revenue and exposure.
According to the Omaha World-Herald, Missouri placed fourth, earning $10.4 million, in Big 12 revenue sharing during the 2008-2009 school year.
Despite the departure of Nebraska (Big 10) and Colorado (Pac-10), the way Missouri receives its share of conference revenue will remain unchanged.
“The same revenue distribution formula applies,” Deaton said.
Alden said the distribution inequities have been accepted and understood, and MU will now “move forward with that knowing that it will be our responsibility to be able to address that in a way that we continue to improve on our athletic program.”
Even so, the Tigers will see an immediate increase in revenue under current contracts. The deals will now be split 10 ways, not 12, giving an automatic revenue bump to each school.
But it remains to be seen how exactly the estimated $20 million in combined fees Nebraska and Colorado now owe the conference for leaving will be doled out.
In a press conference given by Beebe on Tuesday morning, he indicated that Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri were willing to forego their shares of the penalty money to Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma in an attempt to keep them from jumping conferences.
“Those five institutions were looking at a possibly very difficult future looking at probably significantly less revenue possibilities,” said Beebe at the conference posted on the Big 12 website. “Those five institutions in their judgment decided as they looked at the future media value, they wanted to ensure that those institutions stayed with them. If necessary, and I totally anticipate when we do our future media deal it won’t be, but if necessary, use some of the distribution that they might get from departing members to make sure that Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Texas were induced to stay with them in the conference.”
During Missouri’s press conference, Alden said, “There is no accuracy to that whatsoever.” Later, he continued by saying, “I haven’t heard that, and none of us in our league would believe that.”
According to the Associated Press, *Big 12 Assistant Commissioner Bob Burda confirmed all 10 schools will share “withdrawal fees withheld from Colorado and Nebraska.” Burda called discussions about foregoing penalty fee benefits a “good-faith offer.”
“What the five institutions did was to agree to a broadly recognized need to amend our bylaws, and that’s the only action taken,” Deaton said. “In no way do we expect to be hurt financially by that,” he added, calling the decision “smart business” and the “absolute most responsible step for the University of Missouri and the Big 12.”
The amendment will give conference officials more “flexibility for appropriate revenue distributions,” Deaton said.
Whether the new deal will provide enough incentive to keep the conference together for the foreseeable future is unclear. There is no evidence of any contractual obligations for the remaining institutions to stay put.
“This is a word and a trust. And that’s very well respected within our 10 institutions,” Deaton said.