Navy football fans line up on both sides of the should-we-have-joined-a-conference debate.
One side just got a bunch more ammunition.
The Big East, which will be the home of the Mids come 2015, reportedly has been offered a deal by the NBC Sports Network that would be worth between $20 and $23 million a season. That works out to less than $2 million per school, and likely would be even less for the football-only Naval Academy.
But it will be much, much less than previous estimates. In December, before seven of the league’s nonfootball members took their legacy basketball programs and bolted, the league’s estimated TV value reportedly was between $60 million and $80 million. And that figure is below the $100 million estimate that the league reportedly used as a starting point for TV negotiations.
The low-end estimate of $20 million is less than what every Pac-12 school averages every year under the $3 billion megadeal that league signed with Fox and ESPN in 2011. It’s not much more than the new Mountain West Conference deal, which guarantees each MWC team about $1 million annually from CBS and allows the league to re-sell its secondary games … and could still be renegotiated now that Boise State is back in the fold.
It gets worse. ESPN reports conference presidents turned down a deal in 2011 that would’ve given every full member nearly $14 million a year.
Navy agreed to join the conference in January 2012, not long after that big-money deal was on the table. A series of expansions and contractions has driven that TV number south ever since, and rumors that the MWC might poach Houston and Southern Methodist could make the final deal worse.
Reaction to the $20 million figure among those following Big East schools has been less than positive. Navy athletic officials have remained committed to the conference despite earlier bouts of bad news, though not always in glowing terms.
The anti-conference side, which has some high-profile members, has always viewed the Big East move as a selling-out of sorts — trading traditional independence for the stability and financial security of conference play. As the league’s instability continues and the finances seem less and less appealing, that argument could get louder.