2 Years after Billion Dollar Offer, ESPN may Get Big East For Much Less

Two years after turning down a $1 billion offer from ESPN that probably would have netted Big East football schools around $11 million each a year, the conference may settle on an offer that would pay just $1 to $2 million a year per team. Meanwhile, the Catholic 7 basketball-only schools are close to signing a deal that could get each of them $3 million a year, about what they would have likely made from the billion dollar offer. Here is an estimate of the recent offers, though actual terms are not disclosed:

Offer made in: 2011 2012 2013 BE 2013 C7
Offer in millions $1,000 $300 $125 $150
Years 9 5 6 5
Per Year $111 $60 $21 $30
Teams 16 15 15 10
Per Team* $6.9 $4.0 $1.4 $3.0

TV interest in the Big East peaked with the prospect of TCU, Boise State and others upgrading the conference to help it retain BCS status and the conference sending 10 basketball teams to the NCAA tournament and having 10th place UConn win the title.

Today ESPN reportedly matched NBC’s evaluation of the conference that will have only UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida from the 16 teams that played when the billion dollar offer was turned down. Both networks value the new conference at just above $20 million per year in light of 13 of 16 teams departing since the billion dollar offer:

West Virginia is already playing in the Big 12.

Rutgers is heading to the Big Ten.

Notre Dame basketball will join the football and basketball programs of Louisville, Syracuse and Pitt in the ACC.

Marquette, Georgetown,  St. John’s, Villanova, Seton Hall, Providence and DePaul left as the “Catholic 7” with eyes on adding three to five teams and perhaps even keeping the Big East name.

Last year, most of the conference was still in tact when it was reported by the Boston Globe that an offer in the neighborhood of $11 million each over the life of the contact was turned down.

Fox Sports is expected to pay  $30 million per year if the Catholic 7 becomes a 10-team league, or $40 million if it is bigger.  That is more than the $20 million or $23 million that  ESPN or NBC Sports Network would pay for the remaining Big East schools headed by UConn, Cincinnati and South Florida. The fact that the basketball-only schools of the Catholic 7 would make more than the football schools in the other conference is significant, because in the past the basketball-only schools received only about $1 million to $2 million while the rest went to the football schools.


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