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.