As the October Big 12 board meeting is getting underway, quotes from Fox Sports president Eric Shanks indicate the Big 12 television partner would prefer the conference not expand.
“We don’t think expansion in the Big 12 is a good idea for the conference.” Shanks told the SportsBusiness Journal. “We think it will be dilutive to the product in the short term. In the long term, it’s probably harmful to the future of the conference. Who knows where expansion is going to go. Reading the smoke signals, [expansion talk has] cooled off. I don’t know why. We’re still in discussions with them. We still have a long way to go in the deal. We’ll work through it the best way that we can.”
This seems to confirm what sources have been telling us, and as Sports Illustrated reported, that the Big 12’s television partners, Fox and ESPN, are working on a new contract with the Big 12. A contract that would give the Big 12 more money in order to keep the conference from expanding and would do away with the pro rata clause.
The Big 12’s television partners feel that none of the potential expansion candidates bring enough value to the conference, and if the Big 12 was to exercise the pro rata clause outlined in their current contract, it would simply be a money grab by the conference at the expense of both ESPN and Fox.
It is for that reason that Oklahoma president, and Big 12 board chairman, David Boren has seemingly cooled on expansion. The once outspoken proponent for expansion is said to no longer favor it if it means damaging relationships with the Big 12’s television partners.