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ESPN Calls Big 12’s Expansion Bluff

League tried to play “Texas Hold ‘Em” with network partners, folded when pressed.

Texas v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

All that talk about the Big 12 expanding, even to the point of making hopeful programs go through a dog and pony show?

As expected it was A Tale told By an Idiot, Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing.”

ESPN has agreed to pay the league a total of $10 million more — over the last 8 years of their contract.

That is an extra $125,000 a year for each school. The other media partner, FOX, didn’t even bother with a pittance like that. They just said, “Nah, we’re good, go ahead and leave the pro rata clause in”

That’s the clause that gave the Big 12 the “power” to expand and then extort an extra $25 million a year out of ESPN and FOX for the media rights. Or so it seemed.

It was an attempt at a money grab, pure and simple. ESPN & FOX resisted and made it clear that if forced, they could take the league to court, or the league could burn the money bridge down when it came to getting any future contracts with the duo.

Essentially ESPN bought 8 years of no realignment for $10 million. Texas (and OU) will stay put for now, but when the Grant of Rights ends, they will be out the door.