By DAVE MATTER
Published September 23, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
Updated September 23, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.
Last spring, the 10 members of the Big 12 discussed granting their first- and second-tier media rights to the conference but failed to reach an accord on a decision that could have secured the long-term stability the league now lacks. Seven schools were in favor of securing the rights to the conference, while three stood in opposition,
a source with knowledge of the league proceedings told the Tribune. The three schools against the measure, according to the source, were Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.
Had the measure gone to an official vote, it would have required eight votes to pass.
The other members ? Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech ? were in favor of the move, the source said, which would have turned over their schools' TV rights to its most attractive football and basketball games to the conference, making it virtually impossible to leave for another conference during the length of the agreement. According to the conference bylaws, approval of the policies and procedures relating to revenue distribution requires affirmative votes by 75 percent or more of the board of directors.
With 10 voting members on the board ? each institution is represented on the board by a campus president or chancellor ? passage requires eight votes.
"Obviously, getting something like that done would have shown a commitment by the member schools," the source said.
The granting of media rights became a troublesome topic during last night's simultaneous press conferences at Oklahoma and Missouri. In Norman, Oklahoma President David Boren told reporters that the league's board of directors had agreed that all nine remaining members would grant their media rights to the conference for a six-year period. "These are very strong handcuffs," Boren told reporters.
"The grant of rights really does bind the conference together and it shows that we fully intend to stay together." Speaking at Jesse Hall, Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton had a different take on the topic.
Deaton said the board of directors merely agreed to discuss the proposal, saying, the board had "affirmed its intention to pursue the granting of media rights ? that's first and second-tier media rights ? for a period of six years in order to position ourselves in a dynamic media market nationally."
A Missouri source later clarified Deaton's statement: The Big 12 board had not fully committed to the idea but had agreed to discuss it further.
In the Big 12's media arrangement, first-tier rights refer to its network TV contract with ABC/ESPN, while second-tier cable rights belong to Fox. Under the league's Fox deal, league members share the second-tier revenue equally,
though the fist-tier deal distributes revenue based on TV appearances. Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds has said recently the Big 12 ADs voted unanimously in the spring to also distribute the first-tier rights evenly, though the board of directors has yet to approve the measure. Reluctance to vote for the measure by Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M could suggest they were hesitant on making a long-term commitment to the Big 12.
That became apparent for A&M over the summer when the Aggies applied for membership and were approved to join the Southeastern Conference. In recent weeks, Oklahoma and Texas explored leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-12, up until Tuesday when the Pac-12 decided against further expansion.
The unrest in the conference has spurred Missouri to contact other conferences as well, which Deaton and Athletic Director Mike Alden admitted last night though stopped short of confirming reports MU has been targeted by the SEC. When Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten last year, school officials rallied around the Big 12's failure to grant its media rights as a reason for their departure ? though for years Nebraska opposed equal revenue-sharing in the Big 12, a separate topic of dissension among Big 12 members. In June 2010, shortly before the Huskers joined the Big Ten, Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman cited media rights when the Big 12 asked for Nebraska's commitment to the conference. "I said, 'There's only one way that you can fully commit, long term, to a conference, and that is you assign media rights to your athletic contests to the conference for the long term,' " Perlman told reporters. "And I asked, 'Were the members willing to do that?' The University of Texas made it clear they were not willing to do that."
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