Six networks are reportedly interested in the television rights for the Big East conference, but how much they are willing to pay for those rights is in doubt.
According to a CBS Sports report on Thursday afternoon, the Big East's pending television negotiations could result in a contract worth as little as $60 million per year for the conference. That report was based on discussions between Dennis Dodd and undisclosed industry sources that cited a figure around $60 million to $80 million per season, split among 14 football teams and 17 basketball teams — an amount that would likely pay the basketball schools around $1.06 million per year.
As a measure for comparison, the 14 schools in the Atlantic 10 each receive $346,143 per year from that league's newly-signed TV contract, with games broadcast on a disparate group of cable channels. The Big East projection put forth by CBS would decrease the basketball schools' annual take by a few hundred thousand dollars per season from the current deal.
While the CBS report claimed that the Big East entered negotiations with an expected valuation around $100 million per season for the conference, the commissioner, Mike Aresco, has denied any appraisals.
"When you see reports on television and revenue, just ignore it," Aresco told the Idaho Statesmen. "We haven't talked to any networks yet about any valuations."
The commissioner claimed to be in discussions with at least six networks as well as several "non-traditional entities." He went on the state that he believed that the conference would ultimately agree to divide it's television rights among multiple network partners.
Despite the recently announced departures of Rutgers and Louisville, the Big East will expand to 12 football members next season and will remain at that number in 2014. Navy is expected to join the conference in 2015 and when the Midshipmen join, the conference intends to add another western football-only school to the league at that time — and perhaps sooner if Navy can be convinced to accelerate their entry.
The Big East has not announced any plans for further football or basketball expansion beyond a 14th football member from west of the Mississippi River.