The SEC logo in the hallway at the Hilton Sandestin in Destin, Fla. on Tuesday May 31, 2022 at the annual SEC spring meetings.

Report: Power 5, NCAA reach historic agreement to pay players

The SEC and Pac-12 joined the three other power conferences – the Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 – and the NCAA in agreeing on a multi-billion-dollar settlement that would allow schools to directly pay student-athletes for the first time in NCAA history, ESPN reported on Thursday.

“The five autonomy conferences and the NCAA agreeing to settlement terms is an important step in the continuing reform of college sports that will provide benefits to student-athletes and provide clarity in college athletics across all divisions for years to come,” NCAA president Charlie Baker and the five power conference commissioners said in a joint statement Thursday evening.

With the NCAA’s board agreeing to the terms of the settlement — which would also resolve three federal antitrust cases — former college athletes are one step closer to getting over $2.7 billion in back damages over the next decade because of previous restrictions on name, image and likeness (NIL) deals.

Future athletes also would benefit, as the Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten — three of the defendants in the case — are hoping to put a system in place that would give schools the power to pay them about $20 million per year in permissive revenue sharing.

Such payments wouldn’t start until fall of 2025.

The ACC and Big 12 accepted the terms of the settlement on Tuesday. The Big Ten joined in on Wednesday.

Per the terms of the agreement, athletes won’t be able to sue the NCAA in future antitrust lawsuits and must drop their complaints in three current lawsuits: Carter v. NCAA, Hubbard v. NCAA and House v. NCAA.

Former Colorado football player Alex Fontenot’s lawsuit against the NCAA is not included in this pending settlement. Fontenot’s suit is regarding how the NCAA shares TV revenues with players.

The settlement is not yet official as it requires the approval of U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, who is presiding over the three antitrust cases. Also, if players choose to join Fontenot’s lawsuit, the settlement agreed on by the NCAA and Power 5 could be rendered null and void.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; A detailed view of the SEC logo on a chain marker during the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Report: NCAA agrees to settlement in House v. NCAA

Former college athletes are due for a payday after the NCAA Board of Governors voted to agree to settle House v. NCAA and other antitrust cases related to it, ESPN reported Wednesday.

With the NCAA’s board agreeing to the terms of the settlement, former college athletes are one step closer to getting over $2.7 billion in back damages over the next decade because of previous restrictions on Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals.

Future athletes would also benefit, as the Big 12, Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten — three of the defendants in the case — are hoping to put a system in place that would give schools the power to pay them about $20 million per year in permissive revenue sharing.

Such payments wouldn’t start until fall of 2025.

The ACC and Big 12 had already accepted the terms of the settlement, doing so on Tuesday. The Big Ten joined in on Wednesday, and now the Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 just need to submit their approval.

Both the SEC and Pac-12 are expected to approve the terms later this week, per ESPN’s report.

It is expected that a settlement will officially be reached, and if that were the case, the schools and the NCAA would avoid going to court, where they could have had to pay over $4 billion in damages if they lost.

Per ESPN’s report, the plaintiffs in the case could also dismiss two other antitrust cases against the NCAA that are currently pending and could possibly add billions of dollars in damages to the association’s plate.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; A detailed view of the ACC logo on the down marker used during the game between William & Mary Tribe and the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Report: ACC teams up with Big 12 in House vs. NCAA case

The Atlantic Coast Conference will be working alongside the Big 12 in House v. NCAA, and it will vote to settle that case in addition to other antitrust cases related to it, ESPN reported Tuesday.

A settlement is expected to pass, which would create a framework that would allow schools to give millions of dollars to athletes in the future. Former athletes who couldn’t sign Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals would also have access to a fund of over $2.7 billion.

There will be four more votes this week, with three coming from Power Five conferences and the other coming from the NCAA board of governors.

Presidents of ACC schools voted in-person in Charlotte on Tuesday, the same day that presidents and chancellors of Big 12 universities met virtually to vote. Texas and Oklahoma, the departing members of the Big 12, stayed away from that vote, which resulted in unanimous approval.

ESPN’s report indicated that conferences are putting forth little resistance to the settlement, and the NCAA is also in the same boat.

The Pac-12 will be voting as a 12-team conference, the way it was when the House v. NCAA case was filed.

As part of the settlement, the NCAA would have to pay over $2.7 billion in back damages over a decade. About $1.6 billion of that won’t be given to the schools.

Schools are trying to settle to avoid things spiraling further out of control in the future, something that legal experts foresee happening because of the NCAA’s poor track record in court cases, per ESPN’s report.

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA;  General view of the Big 12 logo on the field at TDECU Stadium before the game between the Houston Cougars and the Texas Longhorns. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Big 12 first to agree to House v. NCAA settlement

The presidents and chancellors of the Big 12 Conference voted unanimously to authorize the settlement of House v. NCAA, Yahoo Sports and ESPN reported Tuesday.

The Big 12 is the first power conference to take that step, with the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC expected to join it in the coming days.

If and when the settlement is approved, athletes will be given a much larger share of the pie of college sports revenue. According to the reports, one of the chief features of the settlement is a fund of nearly $2.8 billion in back damages for former college athletes who were not allowed to capitalize on their name, image and likeness (NIL) rights before 2021.

The NCAA would pay those damages out over 10 years and about 60 percent of it will come from payments withheld by the NCAA to member schools, according to Yahoo.

The settlement also would establish a revenue-sharing model, likely in the fall of 2025, that forever changes how college athletes can make money. The cap would equal 22 percent of the average of a power conference school’s media rights, ticket sales and sponsorship income, Yahoo reported.

The third major change the settlement would bring roster limits to power-conference sports.

The power conferences believe settling House vs. NCAA is the right decision in order to avoid being on the hook for an even larger number in damages in the future, reports said.

The move is not universally popular. Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told member schools of her “strong objection” to the settlement proposal in an email this weekend, Yahoo reported. At issue was how much the Big East, a non-football playing school, would be responsible for in back damages when the FBS conferences’ liability is “disproportionately high.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 21, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA;  General view of the Big 12 logo on the field at TDECU Stadium before the game between the Houston Cougars and the Texas Longhorns. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Expanded Big 12 to keep playing nine league games

The 16-team Big 12 Conference unveiled its 2024 football schedule on Tuesday.

Like in the Big Ten, each team will continue to play nine conference games. The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference are moving to an eight-game format in 2024.

Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado joined the expanded Big 12 from the Pac-12 Conference, while Texas and Oklahoma left the Big 12 for the SEC. The Buffaloes previously competed in the Big 12 from 1996-2010.

The Big 12 season kicks off on Sept. 14 when UCF visits TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Big 12 announced in November that the schedule would prioritize geographical and historical rivalries. Kansas plays at Kansas State on Oct. 26, BYU will visit Utah on Nov. 9, Baylor will play at Houston on Nov. 23 and Arizona will host Arizona State on Nov. 30.

The Big 12 championship game is scheduled for Dec. 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

In a scheduling quirk, two contests involving new league members — Baylor at Utah (Sept. 7) and Arizona at Kansas State (weekend of Sept. 14) — are considered nonconference games because they were previously scheduled.

–Field Level Media

This year's Big 12 conference championship Most Outstanding Player receives a custom-made belt, such as the version WWE women's champion Bianca Belair raises in the file photo from an event in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2022. 

Kns Biancahomecoming 0427

Big 12 championship game MOP to be WWE ‘champion’

The Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 Big 12 Conference championship game on Dec. 2 will get to look just like a WWE champion.

As part of a new agreement between the conference and WWE, the player will be gifted a custom-made WWE championship belt.

“WWE is a global brand that connects with a wide array of audiences,” Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said Thursday in a news release. “With this partnership, we will integrate WWE and its brand power into one of the Conference’s biggest moments, further strengthening the bridge between sports and entertainment throughout the Big 12.”

No. 7 Texas (9-1, 6-1) is the only one-loss team in the Big 12 and among those in pursuit of a spot in the championship game, which is scheduled to be played Dec. 2 at AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa State have identical 5-2 conference records.

Rules regarding how the conference will break a three-way tie — which remains possible with two weeks of the regular season remaining — were amended on Wednesday by the Big 12. The conference contends no rules changes were made, only a few points of clarification.

“In the event of a multiple-team tie, head-to-head wins takes precedence. If all the tied teams are not common opponents, the tied team that defeated each of the other tied teams earns the Championship berth,” the conference said.

–Field Level Media

Jul 17, 2023; Nashville, TN, USA; SEC commissioner Greg Sankey  talks with the media during SEC Media Days at Grand Hyatt. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Sankey: SEC not ‘reaching’ for any more schools

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey said Tuesday that his league is not aiming to add any more member institutions amid the latest round of realignment.

The SEC will welcome Texas and Oklahoma in 2024, a domino initially toppled in 2021 that caused a massive shakeup of the college sports landscape. Two years later, the Pac-12 faces a likely collapse, once eight of the 12 members leave for the Big Ten and Big 12.

Sankey admitted to a “tinge of sadness,” if not necessarily regret.

“I take responsibility where we’ve made moves,” Sankey told “The Paul Finebaum Show” on Tuesday. “But there was something different last week about the questions around the existence of the Pac-12 Conference, given its long and storied history.”

Sankey said his conference, which will stand at 16 schools as of next year, isn’t actively searching for more members.

There have been behind-the-scenes conversations regarding the recent changes elsewhere around the country. But a videoconference last week with SEC presidents and chancellors revealed a “really strong alignment with that group, very clear that there’s not something out there that we should be reaching for or engaging in,” Sankey said.

Last month the Big 12 agreed to add Colorado, which in turn led Arizona, Arizona State and Utah to follow while a Pac-12 media rights negotiation dragged on. The Big Ten swooped in to add Oregon and Washington, one year after plucking UCLA and Southern California from the Pac-12 and the Los Angeles media market.

Sankey said it doesn’t bother him that the Big Ten now stretches from New Jersey to California.

“We don’t need to be in four time zones to generate interest on the West Coast or really across the globe, and so that’s been a hallmark,” Sankey said. “Who knows what will happen, and that’s where I go back to one of my original statements: We’re always going to be attentive to what’s happening around us. And perhaps there’ll be some opportunity, but it needs to be a lot of philosophical alignment. And it’s not something where we’re actively out recruiting institutions right now.”

All of the change has left uncertainty over what the next move may be. The Atlantic Coast Conference has been linked to Cal, Stanford and SMU by multiple media reports.

There is also the question of the “Power Five” versus “Group of Five” conference structure if the Pac-12 dissolves. The College Football Playoff is supposed to expand to 12 teams in 2024, and the commissioners (plus outgoing Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick) agreed to a model wherein the six highest-ranked conference champions will qualify, plus the next six at-large teams in the rankings.

If the “Power Five” becomes a “Power Four” — or smaller — that model could be revisited.

“I think it’s wise for us to take a step back and reconsider what the format might look like given these changes and circumstances,” Sankey said. “We’ve not met on that, I’ve not had any meaningful conversations, but I think we have to acknowledge that it is on everyone’s mind pending the outcome of some of these additional membership movement pieces.”

–Field Level Media

ASU hosts the Sun Devils' first day of football practice at the Kajikawa Practice fields on July 31, 2023, in Tempe.

Reports: Arizona State, Utah aim for move to Big 12

The Pac-12 continued its run of bad news on Friday when Utah and Arizona State applied for membership with the Big 12.

A meeting between the schools and Big 12 presidents and chancellors was scheduled for later in the evening, multiple outlets reported.

Oregon and Washington were closing in on approval to join the Big Ten, Arizona is well on its way to the Big 12 and Colorado already announced plans to be part of the Big 12 next season.

UCLA and Southern California began the exodus with their announcement last year to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024.

The four remaining Pac-12 schools, Washington State, Oregon State, Cal and Stanford, are left to consider their options.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars coach Jake Dickert speaks during Pac-12 Media Day at Resorts World Las Vegas. tMandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Washington State disappointed by Pac-12 peers, planning for future

Washington State is in danger of losing its place in a power conference with the Pac-12 literally falling apart this week.

Located in remote Pullman, Wash., the school is an outsider in the conference realignment game. It was banking on its fellow Pac-12 schools sticking together and reloading in the wake of the departures of Southern California and UCLA.

But instead, Colorado and Arizona are leaving for the Big 12, Arizona State and Utah have applied for admission to the Big 12 and Oregon and Washington are on the verge of leaving for the Big Ten.

Cougars president Kirk Schulz and athletic director Pat Chun are disturbed with the actions of the other programs.

“We are disappointed with the recent decisions by some of our Pac-12 peers,” the joint statement from Schulz and Chun said. “While we had hoped that our membership would remain together, this outcome was always a possibility, and we have been working diligently to determine what is next for Washington State Athletics. We’ve prepared for numerous scenarios, including our current situation.

“With exceptional student-athletes, a strong Cougar tradition and incredible support from our fans, donors and alumni, we will chart the best path forward together.”

Washington’s impending move to the Big Ten hurts the most, as the Apple Cup football rivalry between the two schools is perhaps the premier college event in the state each year.

Earlier this week, Cougars football coach Jake Dickert sharply criticized the realignment landscape and the effect it will have on longtime regional rivalries.

“The old question of, ‘How long would it take TV money to destroy college football?’ Maybe we’re here,” Dickert told reporters. “To think, even remotely, five years ago the Pac-12 would be in this position, it’s unthinkable to think that we’re here today. And to think that local rivalries are at risk … to me, is unbelievable.”

Washington State, Oregon State, Stanford and Cal would be the Pac-12’s four remaining members if the rest of the departures become official.

The Cougars could be forced to take a step downward and consider a move to the Mountain West, a league that includes San Diego State, Boise State, Colorado State among others. San Diego State had been vying to join the Pac-12 before the latest round of turmoil.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Colorado Buffaloes defensive coordinator Charles Kelly during Pac-12 Media Day at Resorts World Las Vegas. tMandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Pac-12 could lose Colorado to Big 12

Colorado could be one day away from committing to rejoin the Big 12, according to multiple reports.

ESPN and 247 Sports reported a meeting of the Colorado University Board of Regents on Wednesday was followed with a second meeting set for Thursday where the discussed move from the Pac-12 was on the agenda.

Losing the Buffaloes to the Big 12 would be another significant hit for the Pac-12. USC and UCLA are in their final year of competition in the conference, joining the Big Ten in 2024.

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said last week he wasn’t concerned about losing schools to other conferences.

“Our schools are committed to each other and to the Pac-12,” Kliavkoff said at media days in Las Vegas.

The Big 12 admitted it planned to expand further, with Texas and Oklahoma leaving next year for the Southeastern Conference.

The Big 12 added BYU, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston for the current year and commissioner Brett Yormark said this month his expansion plan included getting to 14 teams. With Colorado potentially in the fold, the Big 12 would be at 13 schools. Yormark said he was willing “to disrupt” by adding to the conference.

Colorado was a founding member of the Big 12 in 1996 and also part of the original Big 8. CU left to join the Pac-12 in 2011.

–Field Level Media