The same grant-of-rights proposal in regard to ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports contracts viewed as the primary hope for stabilizing the Big 12 was defeated in a vote of school presidents last spring, league sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed today.
Sources said the proposal, which needed a 75 percent vote to pass, received three opposing votes: one each from Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M. The other seven schools voted in favor of the measure at that time.
The issue resurfaced in Thursday night’s teleconference with Big 12 presidents, with a proposal for a six-year grant of rights agreement that would carry the league through the duration of its remaining ABC/ESPN contract that expires after the 2015-16 school year. Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton, chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, said league officials agreed “to pursue” the idea _ which essentially would equate to a six-year commitment from league schools _ during the teleconference.
Adopting such a move means that a school would assign its primary TV rights to the conference for six years. If any school departed within those six years, its TV rights would remain with the Big 12, making that school unavailable for telecasts in its new league.
After Thursday’s teleconference, Oklahoma president David Boren came down strongly on the side of supporting the grant-of-rights deal, calling it “essential” for the league’s future.
“The grant of rights really binds a conference together,” Boren said. “These are strong handcuffs. We hope it will make us stable.”
With Boren now on the other side of the fence, based on Thursday’s comments, that brings the eighth vote to the table in favor of the propsal. That led Big 12 officials to express optimism Friday that the move will be enacted.
Texas men’s athletic director DeLoss Dodds said Wednesday that UT officials “don’t want to sign over” any TV rights to the league. With Texas A&M on the verge of joining the Southeastern Conference, Texas appears to be the lone holdout among nine league schools expecting to return to the Big 12 for the 2012-13 school year.
In an interview Friday with a Lubbock radio station, Texas Tech president Guy Bailey said such a move “would be the single most stabilizing factor” to secure the league’s long-term future.
_ Jimmy Burch