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Texas Inks $300M Deal With ESPN For Longhorn Network

The rich are getting richer in college sports.

In a move that will cause seismic quakes across the landscape of college athletics (and future conference expansion plans), the University of Texas and ESPN have finally reached an agreement in their efforts to build a television network geared exclusively toward Longhorn sports.

Texas will make $300 million over the course of its 20-year deal with ESPN and its new Longhorn Network will be the first of its kind.  Think Big Ten Network (which is a partnership between that conference and Fox) but with one school earning all the proceeds.

Texas is an IMG school and once that group’s multimedia rights fees are sliced out, the Longhorns should receive about $15 million per year in new revenue.  That’s on top of its existing “biggest piece of the pie” cut from Big 12 revenues.  Which has already helped Texas fund the biggest sports budget in the country for 2010-11.

With this kind of financial advantage — plus a great recruiting base, tremendous facilities, and a history of winning — SEC fans had better get used to seeing Texas in BCS bowls and Final Fours.  The Longhorns are about to become uber-rich… which should help them to become even stronger in athletics.  If that’s possible.

On another front, Texas was very much at the heart of 2010′s conference expansion talks.  The Big 12 nearly broke apart because the have-nots in that league were sick of being controlled (and out-spent) by the one very big have down in the Lone Star State.

The Pac-10 almost expanded to 16 teams in order to land the Horns.  The Big Ten also flirted with Bevo and company.  This summer was all about Texas.  And now Texas has even more power.

At some point the Big 12 will finally come apart.  When that happens, every league out there will race to land the Longhorns.  But Texas will have the power to demand whatever it likes from its new partners, thus setting up a new conference that will face the same revenue-sharing issues that have plagued the Big 12.

In other words, everyone will want Texas because they’re so rich and powerful.  But landing Texas might actually be a bad thing in the long haul… because they’re so rich and powerful.

 


3 comments
Cal
Cal

Houstonvol,

The SEC would go after East Tennessee State University before they bring in a school from Pennsylvania. Part of the whole SEC mantra is being THE SOUTHEASTERN Conference. Sorry, not going to go after a school in northern PA.

Reply
Reply

Which way do the dominoes fall? If what you say were to happen, the real question mark would be Oklahoma. Joe C preached all summer that OU would stick w/ UT, but it sure sounded like a move w/ TAMU to SEC was also on the table. TAMU would never be allowed to move w/o assurances that B12-2 sticks together (if that's what UT wants), ie OU staying put. This deal does nothing w/ regard to keeping B12-2 together. The same inequities that are driving the conf apart just got worse. Will the next tv deal meet expectations promised by Beebe & will any of the have-nots get a better offer...the game is still on.
M - I - Z...

Houstonvol
Houstonvol

I personally think this will keep the B12 together more than break it apart. First - the state of Texas is facing massive budet cuts. The bulk of the ESPN contract goes directly to the University, not the athletic department. Which means the State legislature can control how the money is spent. The state of Texas will be looking out to protect the major universities in the state. This contract basically guarantees that TU is going to be in good shape. However what about the other major university Texas A&M(TAMU)? I see the marriage of the SEC and TAMU happening soon, and with the state of Texas blessing. Why? This will allow the B12 to bring in Houston to replace TAMU. TAMU will now have have access to the SEC money, and the University of Houston (which was just promoted to tier one research status) will have access to the Big12 money. This protects and strengthens the three top universities in Texas. With 287 million of the $300 million going directly to the general university fund - The powers to be will have sway over what Texas does conference wise. There is a lot of pressure in Austin (legislature not school) to protect the other tier one research university in the state - Houston. Realignment is as much or more about academics than athletics. If the Texas schools can shift around to protect themselves, then they will do it. This will protect the five major power schools in the state - TU, TAMU, UH and Tech and Baylor. The Texas alumni and fans were not happy with the prospect of having most of their away games so far away with the PAC. I don't see TU separating from OU conference wise. The little sisters of the Big 12 saw what the future would be like if the Big 12 dissolved - so they will keep quite. TU will keep the B12 together. It will help the non-revenue sports with scheduling and travel. The state will demand that it protect the other Texas schools by holding the purse strings to that $287 million. However I suspect that TAMU will be in the SEC come this summer. Who will the SEC bring in for balance? My vote is a school that is not in your Expansion list - Pitt; Top rank research university, major TV market, major recruiting state, top notch basketball program, and a football program that would not upset the hierarchy of the SEC football powers. Before you think they are in the north - technically so is Kentucky.

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