The Big 12 Conference wrapped up its annual spring meetings on Friday and did so with a couple of big things to celebrate.
For starters, the Big 12’s $364.87 million revenue from the 2017-18 year, announced on Friday by commissioner Bob Bowlsby, set a record and was an increase of more than $8 million from the previous year.
In addition to the good news on the financial front, Bowlsby said this year’s meetings were more pleasant than most because of the straight-forward nature of the year-end get-together of the conference’s presidents and athletic directors.
“Really good meetings, but very different than we’ve had in the past two or three years,” Bowlsby said at a Friday news conference. “There’s no shortage of things to talk about it, from gambling to transfer working groups and everything in between. But in terms of front-and-center, white hot issues, we didn’t have very many of those this year.
“We mostly spent time celebrating what has been an extremely successful competitive year, financial year, legislative year. So we feel very good about the state of the Big 12 Conference.”
As a result of the record revenue collected, the cut handed out to each Big 12 institution came in just over $36 million and, for many schools — including Kansas — that collect revenue from individual, third-tier media rights deals, the total haul was expected to top $40 million.
Last year, the Big 12’s members collected $34.8 million at the end of the year.
One thing that limited the Big 12’s potential earnings was the fact that the Sugar Bowl, which traditionally pits the Big 12 vs. the SEC, was used as a part of the College Football Playoff and, therefore, was not a part of the Big 12’s revenue picture. With the Sugar Bowl returning to a Big 12-SEC matchup in 2019, many expect the Big 12 cut to top $40 million per school a year from now. Money earned from the return of a Big 12 championship game in football helped offset some of the loss from not having the Sugar Bowl.
Although it is not yet official because the other four Power 5 conferences have yet to release their numbers, the Big 12’s bottom line is expected to keep the conference behind the SEC and Big Ten in terms of total revenue but comfortably ahead of the Pac-12 and ACC.
What’s more, the conference, which traditionally has distributed 92 percent of its revenue back to its member institutions, was able to dish out 93.8 percent of that revenue from 2017-18.
And the total number marked a 70 percent increase in revenue from 2012-13, an astonishing stat that, according to Bowlsby, was the result of operating in a constantly changing and growing media landscape.
Included among the Big 12’s many competitive successes referenced by Bowlsby were:
• The Big 12 being the only conference to have a team compete in the College Football Playoff (Oklahoma) and men’s basketball Final Four (Kansas).
• Oklahoma State winning a national title in men’s golf.
• Oklahoma playing in the Women’s College World Series.
• Texas winning its fourth consecutive men’s swimming and diving title.
• Five of the nine Big 12 baseball teams playing in NCAA Regionals; seven men’s basketball teams making the NCAA Tournament; eight football teams posting a 5-3 record in postseason bowl games; four of the eight teams that advanced to match play of the NCAA men’s golf championships calling the Big 12 home; and last season’s Heisman Trophy winner (OU’s Baker Mayfield) coming from the conference.