Reports: Texas mulling 10-team Big 12

Updated: June 14, 2010, 6:34 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Big 12 Conference, which has lost Nebraska and Colorado within the past week, is close to moving forward with its 10 remaining schools, according to multiple media reports.

Based on a TV deal in the works that could pay upwards of $25 million per year, Texas is leaning toward staying in a 10-team Big 12 for the foreseeable future, Orangebloods.com has reported, citing sources familiar with negotiations.

Texas was meeting Monday with the other remaining nine schools in the Big 12 about a TV deal included in a plan put together by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe that would keep the league intact with its current programs, according to multiple reports.

Texas stands to earn between $20 million and
$25 million annually in television revenue in the reworked deal, including money from its own network, according to Orangebloods.com.

"Things are trending in a favorable direction for the Big 12 today," a Big 12 athletic director with direct knowledge of the negotiations told The New York Times on Monday. "It looks like Texas is getting ready to commit to the Big 12.

"They're going to make a long-term commitment and basically accept the Beebe television proposal."

The Longhorns network figures to generate between $3 million and $5 million, according to the Orangebloods.com report. Because the Big 12 has unequal revenue sharing, the deal will mean more money for Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, who all would receive at least $20 million annually from the new deal.

"Everybody is feeling much more confident the Big 12 is going to survive," a person with direct knowledge of discussions told The Associated Press. "Everybody's going to be making more money."

Big 12 officials have told member schools that the loss of the Denver television market and Nebraska would not weaken the league's negotiating position with TV networks as much as feared, the person said.

The other seven schools in the Big 12 would make between $14 million and $17 million, doubling what they currently receive in TV revenue.

At least four of the Big 12 schools' board of regents are meeting early this week -- Texas and Texas Tech on Tuesday, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on Wednesday -- to discuss the schools' conference affiliations. Missouri's board held meetings over the weekend, after which school officials publicly pledged their loyalty to a 10-team Big 12. The Kansas Board of Regents on Monday lobbied its counterparts in Texas and Oklahoma to keep the Big 12 alive, sending a letter that said a 10-member league would be "extremely viable."

"The musical chairs will stop," the athletic director told The Times of a possible announcement.

Texas A&M has represented another wild card, with school officials meeting with Pac-10 and SEC officials in recent days. If the Aggies are serious about leaving for the SEC, no matter what Texas and the others decide, would that prompt the Longhorns, Sooners and the rest to decide the Big 12 is not worth saving with only nine members?

Texas A&M regent Gene Stallings said Monday he wants the Big 12 to survive and would vote to keep the Aggies in the league if they don't get a much better offer. Stallings told The Associated Press that keeping the Big 12 together "would tickle me to death."

Stallings coached Alabama to a football national championship in 1992. He has said that if Texas A&M does move, he'd rather see the Aggies go to the SEC than the Pac-10, but his comments Monday suggested that would be a last resort.

Stallings says he expects Texas A&M regents to meet later this week.

Earlier Monday, ESPN reported the departure of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac-10 was "imminent," citing four sources within the Big 12.

A source told ESPN's Joe Schad that Texas president William Powers Jr. was taking a "global view" of the landscape, excited about the importance of aligning his school with research opportunities and academic reputations of schools in the Pac-10.

But clearly being able to come at least close to the Pac-10 financial projections, while being able to still launch a network, may have swayed Powers to change his mind.

The source within the Big 12 said Beebe's plan was "gaining traction" with Powers as he worked through Beebe's projections to determine if they compare financially with the Pac-10 proposal.

Part of those Big 12 projections would likely include "adjustments" from television partners as well as future contracts that were more on par with the contracts of other conferences, the source said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.