Big 12 to distribute nearly $35 million per school

IRVING, Texas – The Big 12 Spring Meetings concluded Friday at the Four Seasons Resort with the financial disclosure of $34.8 million per school, a 15-percent increase from a year ago.

As promised, the conference will hold a percentage of Baylor’s take, roughly $6 million, in escrow as it awaits a verification process from the conference that the school has attained institutional control after at least six federal or state lawsuits alleging that the school covered up or mishandled reports of sexual misconduct and other unlawful acts rocked the campus over the last year.

Dr. Linda Livingstone has been named the Baylor president, and in fact her first official day on duty was today, representing the school at the conference Board of Directors meetings.

“We want to be assured that the changes are firmly in place that will bring about the right kind of changes at (Baylor). It was an expression of the deep concern and to a commitment we all have to these values and to our own responsibilities as fellow members of this conference, to make sure that all member institutions have the right kind of institutional control,” said Oklahoma president David Boren, also the outgoing chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors.

Said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby of Livingstone, “I think she will provide dynamic and high integrity leadership for the university.”

The conference has hired attorney Janet Judge to handle the third-party verification on behalf of the Big 12. Her follow-up duties are as mechanical as making sure Baylor has hired a Title IX compliance director and to put eyes on the physical office, to more nuanced matters affecting school culture.

“You have to look at more qualitative questions. Do student-athletes feel like they have easy access, when they need access, in emergency situations? Do they feel they have access to adequate care after an event has occurred? Are there adequate programs to deal with their spiritual needs, their psychological needs, in addition to their physical needs? I mean, those are a little more qualitative questions and (Judge) will have to make some judgment calls about some of those things,” Boren said.

Without much other controversy surrounding the meetings, other business was fairly standard. Commissioner Bowlsby said that it has been recommended that Fresno State and Northern Illinois be added as affiliate members for wrestling, and that approval could be coming soon. Other administrative decisions around the Big 12 soccer championships and women’s basketball were made and should come soon. West Virginia president Gordon Gee was elected as the new chairman of the Board of Directors.

Bowlsby and Boren again affirmed the strength of the conference, as a period that saw four members leave the league falls further into the past. Frequently rumors arise that there is discontent or that one school or another has thoughts of going elsewhere, but Boren says he hears of no such things among school leaders.

“We are very tied to each other. We have many traditional rivalries. There are many reasons why all of us should be pulling for the Big 12 in the long run.” Boren said. “I think we’re on firm ground now. We’re financially in a strong position. No one (from other conferences) is significantly stronger than we are. We’re more optimistic than we’ve been in some time about the future of the Big 12. My goal is to get that topic off the table. I think the day has come and gone of, ‘Is the Big 12 in danger? Is the Big 12 here to stay? Is it a stable conference?’ I don’t think it’s an issue anymore.”

The Big 12’s $34.8 million distribution figure does not include Tier 3 media rights, the rights which other Power 5 conferences have pooled together in the form of conference television networks. With each Big 12 school holding its own rights and making its own money – not reported by the conference – some Big 12 schools will easily pass the $40 million plateau in media revenue, with Texas reaching $50 million.