Big 12 announces new TV deal

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The Big 12 issued a release earlier this afternoon which stated that “commissioner Dan Beebe will be available to the media via teleconference to provide an update on the latest news regarding the Big 12 Conference” at 4 p.m. ET.  Based on the word coming from a writer for the Sports Business Journal, at least some of the latest news will involve a sizable new television contract.

The SBJ‘s John Ourand sent out a tweet shortly after the release stating that the Big 12 will announce a new multi-year deal with FOX Sports.  The SBJ had reported last month that the two sides were putting the finishing touches on what would be a 13-year, $1.17 billion deal for the second-tier rights to football games; apparently, the deal that’s expected to be announced today will be somewhere in the neighborhood of the numbers first reported in March.

The new deal would represent an increase of roughly 350 percent over the previous contract.  However, the previous deal was sliced up amongst 12 schools; with the departures of Colorado and Nebraska for other conferences, each member of the conference will get an even larger slice of the new financial pie.  Not each member of the conference will get an equal slice, however, as Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M will receive a greater share than the other seven schools, a stipulation that resulted from their threat to bolt for the then-Pac-10 in the summer of 2010.

The conference’s first-tier TV rights run through 2016, with ESPN and ABC paying a total of $60 million annually.

That $150 million-per-year total falls well short of conference financial behemoths the Big Ten ($214 million) and SEC ($205 million), but is on par with the $155 million the ACC is expected to bring in with their newly-minted deal.  All of the BcS leagues could be looking up to the Pac-12 in the very near future, however, as that conference is expected to sign new deals that would bring in a rumored $222 million annually.

FOX is also believed to be one of the two frontrunners for the Pac-12’s new TV package.

UPDATED 5:18 p.m. ET: The Big 12 confirmed their new 13-year deal with FOX during Beebe’s conference call, although the conference would not confirm the financial numbers being tossed around.  Beebe did reveal that FOX would broadcast 40 games — nearly double the number aired in the previous deal — on their FSN regional networks as well as cable channel F/X.  Beebe also hinted at the possibility of airing Big 12 games in primetime on the FOX network.

Here is Beebe’s official statement as provided by the conference via a press release:

“This landmark agreement positions the Conference with one of the best television arrangements in collegiate sports,” said Beebe. “It exceeds the benchmarks as we move forward with our 10 members by providing significant revenue growth, increased exposure while allowing institutions to retain selected rights. Most importantly, the agreement signifies the long-term commitment of the member institutions to one another. The Conference is delighted to continue its partnership with Fox and build on the momentum the FSN network has generated for the Big 12 brand through our first 15 years. We are excited about extending our presence on other FOX platforms, especially on FX, a top cable network.”

“This agreement extends our relationship with a valued long-time partner and ensures that Fox Sports will have an incredibly strong college football slate to offer viewers well into the next decade,” said Randy Freer, President of FOX Sports Networks.

“These 10 universities in the center of America stand together in their commitment,” University of Missouri Chancellor and Big 12 Conference Board of Directors Chairman Brady Deaton said. “The Big 12 will generate per member television revenue at competitive levels of college athletics, while at the same time increasing exposure for our programs on national and regional platforms, and providing for comprehensive institutional rights retention.”

Report: North Texas adds FCS running back transfer

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North Texas is adding running back Loren Easly to the roster, according to a message posted to his Twitter account Saturday.

Easly spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin, a member of the FCS Southland Conference. A Houston native, he appeared in 20 games over two seasons as a Lumberjack, carrying 213 times for 1,256 yards with 11 touchdowns while adding 17 catches for 139 yards.

Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Brett Vito confirmed the transfer on his Twitter account.

As an interdivisional transfer, Easly will be able to play immediately with two seasons of eligibility remaining.

He would join a backfield led by rising senior Jeffrey Wilson, who paced the Mean Green with 936 yards and 14 touchdowns on 169 carries in 2016.

Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger signs extension, vows to fix football

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Kansas athletics director Sheahon Zenger has signed an extension to remain on the job through the 2020-21 academic year, the school announced Sunday.

Zenger has been on the job since 2011, meaning the new deal will take him past the decade mark in Lawrence.

“Since Sheahon’s arrival in Jan. 2011, Kansas Athletics has enjoyed success on and off the field,” Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said in a statement. “I am confident that under Sheahon’s leadership Athletics will experience even more success in the coming years.”

Zenger did not hire Bill Self, but he did hire Charlie Weis, which cost KU more than $5.6 million in buyout money after he was fired for going 6-22 leading the Jayhawks from 2012-14.

David Beaty was since hired to run the program, who has infused an outlook brighter than his 2-22 record would suggest.

Zenger said the new contract will allow him to fix football. Via the Kansas City Star:

Under Zenger’s watch, KU has most notably added numerous construction projects, including Rock Chalk Park and the DeBruce Center, which houses the original rules of basketball. He has spoken previously about completing those ventures to “clear the deck” financially so focus could be placed on football and Memorial Stadium renovations — two things he now says are “really the top priorities for me in the next four years.”

“We want it to be a place that people just love to come to,” Zenger said of Memorial Stadium. “We have such history there. I think it’s the greatest setting in the nation for college football. We just need to get it to the point where it’s a place that’s just revered.”

The extension includes a raise from a base salary of $619,000 to $700,000.

Alleged victim of Tennessee WR Josh Smith threatens $3 million civil suit

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Earlier this month, Tennessee wide receiver Josh Smith was charged with domestic assault following an incident at an off-campus house with his roommate. Now, the roommate is seeking damages of $875,000. If that sum is not paid, then the alleged victim may bring a $3 million civil suit to the court.

According to Jimmy Hyams of WNML, Kennedy Foster suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and damage to his eyes and right ear in the incident earlier this month that led to the charges filed against Smith. Foster sent a settlement demand letter to the attorney representing Smith.

“I’m not accusing him (Foster) of extortion, but that’s what it looks like,’’ Smith’s attorney, Keith Stewart said according to Hyams. “Given my understanding that Mr. Foster’s attempts to press charges against Malcolm Stokes were unsuccessful, it seems his motives are clear.’’

“I think when the truth comes out, Josh will be exonerated,” Stewart said of his client.

The deadline for paying the settlement demand is set for May 30 (tomorrow) by 5:00 p.m. and is to be delivered in the form of a cashier’s check along with a letter of apology for the incident. If the Smith family does not pay the requested sum, the legal team for Foster will move forward with a $1.5 million lawsuit seeking compensatory damages and a $1.5 million lawsuit for punitive damages. How either will hold up in court remains to be seen.

How some college football teams are recognizing Memorial Day on Twitter

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It’s not Memorial Day until the social media teams at college football programs start pumping out branded Memorial Day messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. As expected, teams and conferences are busy at pumping out the social media content for their followers today. Here is a sampling of what has been seen so far.

If you have not already done so, please take a few minutes to read John’s annual Memorial Day post.