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Florida State could be an attractive addition to the Big 12

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Saturday, May 12, 2012, at 10:19 p.m.

— Florida State’s status in the Atlantic Coast Conference was safe and secure on Friday and anything but on Saturday based on separate interviews with Seminoles powerbrokers.

The Big 12 likely is playing close attention to all of it.

Seminoles athletic director Randy Spetman told the Orlando Sentinel in a story published Friday that his programs were committed to the ACC. But at least one member of the board of trustees, chairman Andy Haggard, isn’t on the same page.

Haggard blasted the ACC in an interview that was posted Saturday on the Rivals.com site that covers Florida State sports, Warchant.com. He called the conference’s new television-rights contract with ESPN, which was announced on Wednesday, a raw deal for Florida State.

At issue: The ACC surrendered its schools’ third-tier rights for football games — ESPN will control those — but allowed the schools to maintain those rights for basketball.

Schools that hold third-tier rights can negotiate their own deals for broadcasts and keep that income, which in the ACC’s case favors schools with the strongest basketball brands — North Carolina and Duke.

“It’s mind-boggling and shocking,” Haggard told Warchant.com. “It continues the perception that the ACC favors the North Carolina schools.”

But will it push Florida State into a different conference, like the Big 12?

A source close to the conference told The Kansas City Star this past week that no realignment conversations had taken place between the Big 12 and any other school since the introduction of Bob Bowlsby as commissioner last week.

But the Big 12’s expansion committee, made up of athletic directors and presidents, has not been disbanded.

The Big 12 is about to complete its first academic year as a 10-team league, and will begin another one in the fall with a new lineup, with West Virginia and TCU replacing Missouri and Texas A&M.

But the league spent its first 15 years with 12 teams and a football conference championship game that was largely successful in terms of fan interest and television contract value.

For the Big 12 to return to that membership, additions are needed and Florida State, a traditional national power, would be an attractive choice. As for the distance, the Big 12 has extended its map to West Virginia and Bowlsby said a week ago that today’s college landscape is an “electronic footprint rather than a geographical footprint.”

Could the Big 12 stop at 11? Anything is possible. The Big Ten stood at 11 members for two decades until the addition of Nebraska last year.

But if there’s no movement, Florida State and the Big 12 schools are about to get richer. The new ACC deal will pay its members $17 million annually, $4 million more than the previous contract.

Florida State needs the money, according to media reports. The athletic program is facing a $2.4 million shortfall in its 2012-13 operating budget.

The Big 12 has an announced agreement with Fox and one that has been agreed upon but not formally announced by ESPN for a combined $2.6 billion, which will pay conference members about $20 million annually through 2025.

Big 12 schools keep their third-tier rights for all sports. Texas has parlayed its rights into the lucrative Longhorn Network. Oklahoma is expected to announce its own deal. Kansas State has launched K-StateHD.TV, which mixes athletics and on-campus programming, some of which is subscriber-based.

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