Big 12 looks to potential early extension of media rights

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IRVING, Texas – The changing Big 12 Conference plans to enter into discussions with ESPN and Fox about a potential early extension of its media rights deal that still has two more football seasons left after this one.

New Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark said Wednesday that given the changing landscape of college athletics, the league welcomes “the opportunity to engage with our partners to determine if an early extension is in the best interest of all parties.”

An early negotiation for the Big 12 could be significant, given that the Pac-12 board of directors a month ago authorized pushing up negotiations for its next media rights agreements after the decision by UCLA and Southern California to leave for the Big Ten. The Pac-12’s current deal expires in 2024.

The Big 12’s deal with ESPN and Fox goes through the 2024-25 academic year. That also is the latest that Oklahoma and Texas, the league’s only football national champions, will leave to join the expanding Southeastern Conference.

ESPN said in a statement that the network does “regularly engage in conversation around the future with all of our partners, but to be clear, we have not opened the contractual negotiation window with the Big 12 at this time.”

That window for exclusive and formal negotiations with ESPN and Fox is still about 18 months away, in early 2024, if there are no changes before then to the deal that began in September 2012 after the league went to its current 10-team configuration.

Football independent BYU, along with American Athletic Conference schools Cincinnati, Houston and UCF join the Big 12 next summer. BYU, Cincinnati and Houston were all ranked in the preseason AP college football poll, matching the number of current Big 12 members in the Top 25.

The Big 12’s announcement came two weeks after the Big Ten reached seven-year agreements with Fox, CBS and NBC to share the rights to the conference’s football and basketball games. That deal is worth about $7 billion.

“The Big 12 has enjoyed a fantastic relationship with its multi-media rights holders, and I look forward to having these conversations,” Yormark said.

The Big 12 in June said that it would distribute a record $426 million of revenue to its 10 schools for the 2021-22 school year, a nearly 25% increase over the previous year. That was also about 10% higher than the then-record $388 million for 2018-19 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Conference officials said then that revenues were expected to increase again over the next two years. When the four new schools join the Big 12 next summer, the league will spread across eight states and three time zones.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.