Television rights and revenue continue to play a massive role in college sports, and a peek behind the curtain at the giant soon-to-begin Big Ten contract with Fox, NBC and CBS provides great context about how schools wield power and how much money is at stake.
Per an ESPN report, several loose ends with the new seven-year, $7 billion contract, set to begin on July 1, are still being finalized. And more than $70 million of the revenue reported to be in the deal is "in flux," which at roughly $5 million per school could impact budgets at places like Minnesota.
Among the financial revelations from the report: Schools will need to give back $40 million to Fox because former league commissioner Kevin Warren, who brokered the deal, distributed the rights to the 2026 Big Ten football title game to NBC "without the full authority to do so."
Schools also owe Fox $25 million for lost games during the 2020 COVID season, while new commissioner Tony Petitti is trying to massage relationships with power schools like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State over prime-time November football games that were avoided in previous deals but were promised to NBC — a situation that could have financial implications for the overall contract.
As is often the case, though, some perspective is necessary when considering the larger context of all this.
*Even if the $70 million from the deal that is reportedly "in flux" ends up going away, that only represents about 1% of the overall $7 billion contract. Big Ten schools reportedly will get somewhere between $80 million and $100 million per year in the later years of the deal as numbers escalate and UCLA and USC join the conference — up from $54 million during the 2019-20 season.
*That said, if schools have already budgeted the new TV money to pay for facilities, salaries and other skyrocketing athletic department expenses over the next several years, potentially losing $5 million in projected revenue is still a big deal even if the overall TV revenue picture is a huge gain.
*Tucked into the story is the fact that the league is still talking about whether to give Warren a bonus for his work negotiating the deal. Jim Delany, the Big Ten commissioner before Warren, received more than $20 million in bonus compensation as part of a clause in his contract for negotiating the last deal.
Warren — who left his job as the CEO of the Vikings in 2019 to take the Big Ten job and was named CEO and President of the NFL's Bears in January — reportedly had no such bonus clause, but an outside search firm is working to determine whether he deserves a bonus anyway.
It remains to be seen whether that's impacted by any apparent dissatisfaction league power brokers have about the details and transparency of a TV contract that overall adds tens of millions of dollars to annual athletic department budgets.
Here are four more things to know today:
*Are the Twins really a team that might be in on Shohei Ohtani at the trade deadline? They were listed along with the Mets and Dodgers in a recent tweet.
*Patrick Reusse is of course correct in his concern about the over-the-weekend injury to Byron Buxton. Small things have a tendency to grow with the Twins and particularly Buxton — and especially when it comes to Buxton's right knee. Reusse and I talked about the Twins, Bud Grant and the NBA playoffs on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast.
*Let's hope Wolves center Rudy Gobert spends at least as much time working on catching passes as he does on darkness retreats this offseason.
*Carmelo Anthony, the No. 3 overall pick behind LeBron James and Darko Milicic in the NBA Draft 20 years ago, officially retired.