By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Christmas has come early for schools in the Big 12 Conference.
According to a report by espn.com eight conference schools will receive $22 million and West Virginia and TCU, just concluding their first season in the conference will each bring in half shares of $11 million. In total the conference paid out $198 million to its schools and that cumulative level and individual disbursements are conference records.
As a member of the Big East Conference West Virginia received an annual payout between $7-8 million.
WVU athletic director Oliver Luck, recently in Princeton for the Mountaineer Athletic Club’s Coaches Caravan, talked about what WVU can expect to receive as a payout from the Big 12 in the next few years.
“We’re at 50 percent this year, 67 (percent) next year, 80-some (percent) and then year four we’re 100 percent. We’ve got three years graduated,” Luck pointed out.
It is expected that Big 12 payouts will increase to nearly $30 million per school when media rights deals mature later in the contract and the conference will distribute nearly $4 million per school once the league’s agreement with the SEC and the Sugar Bowl takes effect.
Luck said the increased revenue for WVU means much to the Mountaineers’ athletic programs.
“It matters with your facilities, with salaries you can pay coaches and with the ability to support the academic efforts of our student athletes,” Luck said. “I does matter and it’s a lot more money that we’ve ever received from a conference and that’s because things have changed.
“There are still some tight years that we have financially, but once we’re a 100 percent member we will have the funds to really make sure that our facilities are as good as anybody’s in the country. That’s what we need because we expect to compete with Texas, Oklahoma and some of the other legacy programs that really do have special histories and unbelievable fan support.”
In comparison, the Southeastern Conference distributed $20.7 million to each of its members. The SEC total of $289.4 million is a record, but because the league has 14 teams in comparison to the 10 of the Big 12, the per-team distribution is smaller.
As far as the Big 12 expanding, Luck said nothing is currently on the table.
“It hasn’t come up at our most recent meetings,” Luck said. “I think we’re happy with 10 (schools). I think it’s going to be very interesting as this new playoff system comes, to see what happens with these five conferences because you’ve got the Big 12 with 10, the Pac 12 with 12, and you’ve got the other three with 14... the ACC has Notre Dame, so 14-and-a-half, or whatever you want to call that.
“The question really is who is better off? The ultimate is to get as many teams from your conference you can into those playoff spots, one of the four playoff spots. Are we better off with 10 playing a true round robin?
“It’s going to be very interesting to see as we go into the new playoff system how that affects the five power conferences... because the majority of those teams, I think all of them, will come from those five power conferences.”
WVU athletics suffered nearly a $12 million loss in the athletic budget this past fiscal year, a large portion due to the $20 million settlement with the Big East Conference which allowed the Mountaineers sports programs to move to the Big 12 Conference last July 1.