A new piece by Dennis Dodd at CBS puts numbers on the financial fallout from recent realignment moves, as Rutgers and Louisville have left the Big East for the Big Ten and the Atlantic Coast Conference, specifically.
A new Big East primary TV rights deal may worth only $60 million-$80 million per year multiple sources have told CBSSports.com
It is believed that the league went into negotiations estimating its rights' worth as significantly higher than $100 million per year.
Bad news? In the sense that the Big East rejected a $130 million-per-year deal from ESPN in 2011, yes, it's bad news. And compared to the payouts other schools are receiving in other conferences, it's not a big number.
Dodd reports that the Big East schools are receiving $4 million annually in rights fees (without dividing the basketball and all-sports pots). While at CBS, Brett McMurphy listed that number as worth $3.125 million annually for each of the eight full members and $1.5 million annually for each of the eight non-football members.
[So the numbers are a little off. Both numbers are from reporters who work for one of the many interested parties, also of note.]
At the low end, the new deal at $60 million, would lock Big East teams into around the same media rights revenues the programs currently receive, depending on the basketball/ football split. It's not the $10 million-plus level of payout schools in the B1G or Big XII are getting. But it's more than the schools would receive in, say, Conference USA, where the payout is $14 million annually for the league, or the Mountain West, where the payout is $8 million annually.
One would expect the football/ basketball split of the rights fees to be different than the 80/20 split conferences like the ACC would receive, but the $1.5 million that the basketball schools could be in jeopardy if the number comes in that low. The schools have to vote on accepting the deal; and the loss of revenue will have to be balanced with the issues of dissolving/ leaving the conference [for more, check a primer we wrote on how to determine when the basketball schools should pull the plug].
As far as instability, the fact that the teams in the Big East do not have attractive alternatives means that it's fiscally responsible to stay in the Big East, even for the newcomers.
Schools like Houston and Boise State are said to have out clauses depending on revenue projections. From the Idaho Statesman on Boise State's out clauses from the Big East:
Boise State owes the Big East a $2 million entry fee that can be paid over five years. If Boise State does not join the Big East on July 1, 2013, the school would owe the conference $5 million. That number can be reduced if:
— The Big East's total revenue drops by 25 percent before July 1, 2013.
— The new television contract allocates less than 70 percent of proceeds to football-playing members.
— The conference losses "automatic qualifier" status in the Bowl Championship Series, except if "automatic qualifier" status goes away for all leagues. Since there is no more AQ, this provision would not be in effect.
As far as Houston's out clause, it's hard to see them opting out if the money is far better than what they can earn in Conference USA. If the Atlantic Coast calls for Connecticut, Cincinnati, or other schools, it'll be hard to begrudge them leaving for the fancier side of town; but even over in ACC country, the Council of Presidents feels the need to issue a statement that they're committed...
...Which is kind of like the vote of confidence a coach or quarterback gets right before being benched. Or what a conference says when they know there are rumors that their Georgia Techs, Florida States and University of Virginias could be raided.