Texas latest to benefit from ESPN tossing around wads of cash

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It was long thought that the allure of a greater future financial reward is what kept Texas — and thus, three other fellow Big 12 schools — from ditching their current conference and spooning with the Pac-10 this past June.

Today, that thought has been confirmed, and in mind-boggling fa$hion.

According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, Texas and ESPN have reached an agreement for the latter to distribute the Longhorn Network starting in the fall of 2011 and continuing through 2021.  The length of the deal for a fledgling television network that won’t even be launched for another year is far from the most stunning aspect of this story; rather, the fact that ESPN will shell out $12 million per year for the rights to televise UT sports is a landmark, game-changing shift on the collegiate sports landscape.

With the ESPN deal combined with their conference revenues — yes, the ESPN deal is on top of that — the UT athletic department will generate at least $30 million in revenue next year, and at least $32 million annually starting in 2012.  To put that into perspective, Big Ten schools reportedly receive $20 million annually from their various deals, while SEC schools receive in the neighborhood of $17 million.

The Pac-10 had forecast between $18-$20 million annually for each school if the Big 12 members had bolted westward.  The deal breaker for the Longhorns, however, was the insistence that they would have to give up the rights to their own network in order to join the conference.

Based on today’s news, it’s not hard to see exactly why Texas remains a member of the Big 12 instead of making preparations for a 2011 Pac-10 launch.  And hard to see how much longer Texas will remain a part of a conference before striking out on their own.