Stay in the Pac-12, or go to Big 12. What should your school do?

It’s all about the Money.

With the Pac-12 teetering on the edge of existence, schools are having to make tough decisions about where they fit in the conference landscape. Stay put, or move somewhere else? It’s a big decision, with lots of moving parts. But the primary diver: Money.

Money is why conference realignment is constantly in the news right now

But how much money?

Well, let’s look at the conferences. I’ll try to clarify what is rumor, and what is certain.

Big 12: Concrete numbers, Traditional media partners

The Big 12 members will make 31.7 Million per team, on Avg, for the 6 years of the deal (2025 through 2030). That is up from the previous deal which averaged 22 Million per year.

The new deal is with ESPN and FOX:

  • About 20 Million from ESPN
  • About 11.7 Million from FOX

ESPN has it in writing that up to 4 new members will be guaranteed a full share of their 20 million chunk (as long as they were P5 members before they joined).

FOX has it in writing that up to 2 new members will be guaranteed a full share of their 11.7 million chunk (as long as they were P5 members before they joined).

The Big 12 was always planning to expand.

It’s interesting that FOX is not obligated to give theoretical new teams 15 and 16 their 11.7 million part of the 31.7 million. It is assumed they will IF FOX considers the new teams to be “value adds” (Major brands like ASU, Utah, Oregon, Washington etc.)

Pac-12: Uncertainty, and low projections

The current Pac-12 deal that is expiring is split evenly by FOX and ESPN.

In 2022:

22 games were on FOX channels

21 games were on ESPN channels

37 games were on Pac-12 Network channels

The Pac-12 brings in 20 million per team per year from the deal, which is mostly from FOX and ESPN.

The Pac-12 Network is owned by the Pac-12 and makes very little money.

The Pac-12 (9) wants their new deal to be in the 31.7 ballpark that the Big 12 is in. And some presidents (Arizona) don’t want more than 50% of games to be streaming.

Based on Rumors:

The leading offer is a deal with Apple TV.

It may or may not include 1 game per week on ESPN (likely Pac-12 After Dark or Friday games).

Every other game would be on a specific Apple TV add-on subscription. (Similar to the MLS on Apple TV setup).

The current offer has incentive tiers. More subscribers = higher payouts.

Schools do not like the incentive structure because it makes yearly budgets impossible to predict.

The base is rumored to be anywhere from 15 million to 25 million. 20-22 million is where it is assumed to be.

No one has any clue how the incentive structure works. 

It could be easy or impossible to earn more money.

Getting to 31.7 million is likely impossible with the current offer structure.

It is based on current membership:

Colorado gone

Arizona staying

Big unknowns:

  • Does the value go down as members are added?
  • How many years is it?

It is assumed the PAC can add members up to 12 and the price per school will stay the same. If the deal is too short, there is still no long term stability, and schools likely just leave in 2030 (in which case they should try to leave now).

An obvious choice

It doesn’t matter which school you’re running. The choice is obvious. 


It’s more money and on linear TV. 

It’s likely a longer deal, and you don’t have to market Apple TV for them

But (A B1G But)

If you can get to the Big Ten before the end of the Big 12 deal, the math changes.

This part is for Oregon and Washington (and delusional Utah and ASU fans).

The Big Ten deal started in 2023 but drastically escalates in 2024. And it continues to grow through the end of the deal in 2029. 

The average per school is in the 70-80 million per year ballpark (from 2024 to 2029).

(There are low estimates down in the 50 million per year range, but that math comes out short when spread over 16 schools with the deal being reported to be well over 1 billion per year total).

And, it’s on broadcast television, NBC, CBS, and FOX. That’s maximum exposure for brand growth and recruiting. 

If you think your school can get in the B1G eventually, but not necessarily in 2024, maybe don’t lock yourself into the 31.7 million the Big 12 is offering. Even a half share from the Big Ten will dwarf the Big 12.

So what should your school do?

Take less, and stay in the Pac-(?), take stability in the Big 12, or chase the coveted B1G invite?

Want more Walk On Fan? Check out this piece about what might happen if the B1G adds Pac-12 schools.

This article was written by Cole Tollison and edited by Hayden Breene.

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