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How Colorado Lost $70 Million By Leaving the Big 12

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It has been 12 years since the Colorado Buffaloes left the Big 12 for the Pac-12. And while the phrase “Go West, young man”, was often associated with chasing the American dream and escaping poverty for a better tomorrow, it has has been anything but that for the CU.

In a new study done by SicEm365‘s Sam Bradshaw, the Colorado Buffaloes have left at least $70 million in revenue on the table since leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-12.

 

Bradshaw breaks it down perfectly, and when you tally up the total numbers, it’s ugly for the Buffaloes and has got to result in plenty of buyer’s remorse. The Pac-12 never paid out the kind of money some would have expected, while the Big 12 had a very solid TV deal(s) over the last decade. Add in the exit fees, and the ramp up to full conference membership, and the total amount Colorado cost itself was nearly $70 million.

As I’ve noted many times on this site, I understood why the Buffaloes left, and at the time I didn’t blame them. They were concerned about the Big 12 collapsing and did not want to be the last one’s standing with no home. They did not have a natural travel partner in the league, there was a push from many who wanted to be associated with some of the elite institutions out west, and this was their chance to jump.

But from an athletics and athletic revenue perspective, it’s been a complete disaster, and this is just the latest example.

 

So now, we wait. Colorado has already left one conference too soon. Is it possible they’re getting cold feet over the prospects of leaving the Pac-12 for the Big 12 just before a new TV deal comes in for the league? Possibly. However, the future of the Pac-12 is in much more peril than the Big 12 was over a decade ago. And if you were buying stock in Power Conferences, who you be looking at the Big 12 or Pac-12? I think we all know that answer.

Also, with each passing week the Pac-12 doesn’t have a new TV deal, it seems impossible that the league could garner a deal remotely close to what the Big 12 is going to be paying out (north of $31 million per school per year) come 2025.

But obviously, with history being known to repeat itself, Colorado doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice in 15 years. So now, we wait.

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