Last year in this post, Dr. Humphreys discussed the finances of college football in the NCAA, and one of those teams names was the University of Texas, who ranked #5 overall in football revenue. Earlier this week, it was announced that the University of Texas (UT) athletic department had secured an exclusive television deal with ESPN for the next 20 years worth $300 million dollars. That is $15 million of additional revenue which the athletic department will be bringing in every year. The 24 hour network is guaranteed to broadcast at least 1 football games, and several basketball games every season. In addition, programming will pregame and postgame interviews and coverage for football, as well as hosting the spring scrimmage, other sporting contests, and some academic programming.
The deal also includes a television studio being built at Royce-Memorial Stadium, but also will create jobs for 100 more people to help run the new channel, and $25 million of the money brought in during the next five years will be directed to academics. Some reports have put Notre Dame’s TV contract with NBC at just over $15 million a year, but at less than $13 million if the team does not make the BCS (which has been the norm). The move by Texas not only helps one of the richer athletic departments become richer, but it may also have implications beyond just the financing of Texas athletics and academics.
With conference realignment the hot topic of college sports in the last few years, it was Texas who really helped secure the Big 12 after the exodus of Nebraska and Colorado. While Kansas also ranks high in revenue generated by the entire athletic department, Kansas’ strength comes mainly from their football program, where as Texas has developed a very strong football and basketball program over the years. Case in point, just hours before I wrote this, the #10 Texas Longhorns beat the #2 Kansas Jayhawks in college basketball. With Texas guaranteed a good chunk of money, it may be the case that they are happy to stay in the Big 12 where the opposition just got a little bit easier with the exit of Nebraska. It is possible, however, that Texas could contemplate a life similar to Notre Dame’s where they become independent in football. While I doubt that would happen, it could potentially set up the destruction of the Big 12.
In all, I don’t see Texas going to another conference anytime soon, but any move they make is sure to draw lots of attention from the rest of the Big 12. I heard a Big 12 athletic director on the radio late last year state that Texas was the only team in the conference and possibly the nation, which really has the ability to create such a network. If that’s true, this new financial windfall, may help boost Texas into an even stronger program. It’ll be interesting to examine how this TV deal may affect college sports in the coming years.