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Things looking up for Big 12 as presidents reportedly agree to TV deal

Believe it or not, the Big 12 appears to be on the upswing.

Though the deal has not been signed, the Big 12’s member presidents have verbally agreed to a TV deal worth a combined $2.6 billion with ESPN and FOX, CBSSports is reporting. Word of the deal first came on March 13 and was reported by both CBS and the Sports Business Journal.

(For what it’s worth, the SBJ reported the deal was worth $2.5 billion. The point is the deal, when official, will place the Big 12 among the richest conferences in college athletics.)

The new contract would extend the league’s current deal with ESPN, which runs through 2016, to 2025 to “sync up” with the conference’s second-tier rights rights agreement with FOX, signed in 2011. Also expected to be announced with the deal is an extension of the grant of rights through the life of the contracts. The league previously voted to a grant of rights for six years.

Last week, the Big 12 announced the hiring of Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby. It would be nothing less than a stunner if this TV deal didn’t go through as planned given that development.

Not bad for a conference on the verge of extinction two years in a row.

With BCS qualifying status out the window beginning in 2014, the TV deal becomes the primary (if it wasn’t already) metric of conference stability. Based on that, the Big 12 is looking pretty good these days.