Big 12 Will Play Football Title Game In 2017

The Big 12 unanimously votes to again play a football championship conference game, beginning in 2017.

The Big 12 Conference schools haven't agreed on everything the last few years but administrators from each of the 10 schools did find common ground on Friday, voting unanimously to bring back a conference championship game beginning in 2017.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said a conference championship game would possibly net the league an additional $27-28 million a year, according to data provided by consultants hired by the conference.

It was also announced by Bowlsby after the third and final day of the Big 12 meetings that the conference distributed $304 million – or $30.4 million to Oklahoma State University and each of the other nine schools in the league – last year. That's roughly a 20 percent increase in the conference revenue from the previous year and puts the Big 12 third among the Power 5 conferences, behind only the SEC and Big 10.

Although the format for a conference championship is still to be determined (don't be surprised to see the league broken into a pair of five-team divisions with the two division winners playing in the title game), Bowlsby and University of Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chair David Boren said the data showing that a championship game would help the Big 12 get into the playoff "was very convincing."

Since 2011, when the league went to 10 members following the departures of Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri (followed soon thereafter by the additions of TCU and West Virginia), the Big 12 has not played a conference title game. Thus, the Big 12 is the only Power 5 league whose champion hasn't played a 13th game in the last five years.

The Big 12 title game was last contested following the b2010 season.

An NCAA rule change in April 2015 led to Friday's vote. The rule change allows any conference, no matter the number of members, to host a championship game. The Big 12 is the first conference to take advantage of the rule change.

Data from the analysis firm Navigate Research shows the Big 12 has a better chance of getting a team into the College Football Playoff with a championship game.

"The presentations by our consultants on the value of the championship game both in terms of providing a 13th data point to help us have a better chance of getting into football playoffs, for example, and other competitions was very, very convincing," said Boren. "Let's just say that, reputationally, having that 13th data point is very helpful in terms of our competitive position, also very helpful in terms of our financial position and increasing our revenue distribution per school."

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