Collegiate games having no fans in attendance due to the pandemic didn’t just impact the atmosphere in Big 12 arenas and stadiums. Without fans spending money on tickets and other in-game amenities, the Big 12 also suffered fiscally.
But fans proved hungrier than ever to get back to their favorite sporting events after being forced to watch from their couches in 2020.
Kansas and its nine cohorts in the Big 12 will receive $426 million in revenue from the conference for the 2021-2022 academic year, the largest amount to date. This is a 25% increase from last year’s revenue.
This huge uptick bodes well, considering the massive changes looming for the Big 12 in the coming years. Because football is by far the biggest revenue earner for the NCAA, we’ll take a look at the football programs exiting and entering the Big 12 in the near future, and how that might shake things up for Kansas football.
Speaking of massive changes, one is the legalization of sports betting within Big 12 states, such as Kansas, that recently happened. Kansas sports betting will bring an influx of fan engagement and revenue to Big 12 schools, games, and the NCAA.
We’re excited to see how Kansas online gambling expands when sports betting apps like DraftKings and FanDuel become readily available after July 1, 2022.
Cornerstone programs leaving for the SEC
The Southeastern Conference and football are equal to peanut butter and jelly when thinking of things that just go together. Since the first College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2014, five of the eight champions were SEC schools.
The conference has also won the past three CFPs. It’s not hard to imagine why Oklahoma and Texas have opted to join the SEC in 2025.
The Sooners football program has been ascending in recent years. Since the CFP era began, Oklahoma has made the cut four times, though they haven’t been able to advance past the semifinals.
While the Longhorns are a blue chip football program historically, they’ve certainly lost that title in the past 10 years. They last won the Big 12 championship in 2009, and haven’t even made an appearance in the game since – let alone bring another title back to Austin.
It will certainly be interesting to see how they fare against the much stiffer competition in the SEC.
Two doors close but four more open: new schools set to join the Big 12
Joining the Big 12 in 2023 are:
Once they join and Oklahoma and Texas are out, the Big 12 will actually have 12 programs again.
Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF are coming from the American Athletic Conference (AAC), paying extra fees to leave early, as the trio is doing so one year before they’re contractually allowed. BYU, on the other hand, was an independent program and already planning on joining the Big 12 in 2023.
Cincinnati’s football program is peaking after making the CFP last season, becoming the first group of five schools to make it. But Alabama beat the Bearcats in the game, and Cincinnati lost its starting QB to the NFL. Time will tell if they can compete in the Big 12.
Houston finished last season ranked 17th on the AP polls, peaking at 16th. They lost the AAC championship game to Cincinnati.
UCF put itself on the map in 2017 when former head coach, Scott Frost, took it as high as 6th in the AP polls. After a perfect 13-0 season, the Knights felt snubbed because they weren’t selected for the CFP. Naturally, they claimed to be national champions and even had a parade at Disney’s Magical Kingdom in Orlando – the same city its campus is located in.
BYU has been surging ahead the past two seasons under head coach, Kilani Sitake. After peaking at 8th in 2020 and 10th in 2021 in the AP polls, BYU isn’t expected to slow down heading into the upcoming season.
How these changes will impact the Big 12
Having two of the biggest revenue earners leave the conference will certainly hurt future revenue distributions given by the Big 12.
But when the dust settles, the Big 12 gains two more programs. There’s no reason to believe the four fresh schools can’t make more money combined than what Oklahoma and Texas were bringing in.
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