Big 12 presidents unanimously approved an agreement for schools to turn over their most lucrative television rights to the league for a minimum of six years in a teleconference today, a step that essentially guarantees the league will remain intact for that amount of time.
In addition, league officials approved a six-year moratorium on high school sports content for the Longhorn Network and other single-school television networks. The agreement bans games and news-related highlights, taking a stronger stance than existing NCAA bylaws.
The moves, along with Thursday’s invitation extended to TCU, represent efforts to stabilize a conference that has lost three members to other leagues in the past 16 months. Missouri, which is pondering an opportunity to join the Southeastern Conference, did not vote on any of Thursday’s issues on the advice of legal counsel.
By signing over ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports television rights to the Big 12 for six years, any school that leaves for another conference during that stretch would be unavailable for telecasts in its new league. The measure, combined with Monday’s approval of equal revenue-sharing from ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports TV contracts, represents enhanced stability and “a win for the entire conference,” said Oklahoma president David Boren, who joined Texas president William Powers in proposing the six-year waiver of rights for Big 12 schools.
“The reforms made … will help to strengthen the conference and increase its stability,” said Boren, who joined Missouri officials in pushing for Thursday’s additional constraints on Longhorn Network content. “I was especially pleased that the conference will have its own bylaws to make sure that institutional-branded networks will be prohibited from showing high school athletes in game or highlight format in a way that could give any conference member a recruiting advantage.”
_ Jimmy Burch