FRISCO, Texas – The Big 12 Conference reached new heights last year when it came to revenue distributed among league institutions.
In his pseudo state of the conference presser Monday to kick off the first day of the Big 12 Conference Football Media Days in Frisco, Texas, conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the league is growing its financial viability.
“It varies a little bit from institution to institution based upon how they did in some of our championships, but we distributed a little over $34 million last year,” Bowlsby said. “That is about a 15 percent increase from the previous year.
“That also, I would remind you, doesn't include our third tier rights, which in the case of several of our schools are very substantial. So we felt like we really have continued to compete from a financial standpoint.”
With the conference revenue seeing record numbers, perhaps it’s no surprise that the league is looking to lock up Bowlsby for the future – that may include the renegotiating of the Big 12’s television rights.
After his interview at the podium, Bowlsby broke the news of a personal level.
“The board has offered me a contract extension and I expect that I’ll sign it,” Bowlsby said. “Looks like it might be through 2024-25.
“My health is good, I feel like I’m a pretty young 65. I’ll stay at it for a while. I like what I’m doing, I like the schools, the board has been very good to me.”
The commissioner has also been instrumental in furthering the league’s presence in more of the Olympic sports.
For the second time in three short years, the Big 12 Conference announced the inclusion of wrestling affiliates earlier this summer.
It was a move that Bowlsby is proud of due to his background.
“I came up as a wrestler, so I care a lot about the sport,” Bowlsby said.
According to the commissioner, the decision to add Fresno State and Northern Iowa – which joins other affiliates Air Force, Northern Colorado, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming – to the Big 12 staples of Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia, came from the four head coaches of original members of Big 12 wrestling.
“This didn’t come from the conference office, (Oklahoma State wrestling coach) John Smith and our four wrestling coaches are the ones that came to us and said, ‘We think this makes some sense,’” Bowlsby said. “It really was to be able to make sure these schools don’t discontinue wrestling.
“Now all of a sudden we have 12 schools and it’s probably one of the two best qualifiers in the whole country. I think it’ll be a good success.”
While wrestling in the Big 12 now has a total of 12 teams – the second-most in a conference behind the 14 in the Big Ten Conference – Bowlsby said there are no other Olympic sports in the conference that are currently in talks of adding affiliates.
Rowing added Alabama, Old Dominion and Tennessee as conference affiliates in 2014, and gymnastics added Denver as an affiliate in 2015.
“It’s a model that we don’t see much downside to it. It’s good for the sports, and gives our schools better competition – and maybe it helps save a sport,” Bowlsby said.