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Houston can reportedly get out of Big East deal without penalty, depending on new TV contract

Nov 20, 2012, 10:32 AM EDT

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The University of Houston has a way to get out of its contract to move to the Big East without penalty if certain revenue figures are not met, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com is reporting.

Houston is supposed to be part of the Big East’s new wave of members beginning next year in 2013-14, but Maryland’s move to the Big Ten and the impending move of Rutgers to the same conference has created instability and speculation.

This comes at a critical time for the conference because the Big East is out in the open market, searching for a television rights deal after the expiration of its contract with ESPN.

The conference even brought in former CBS executive Mike Aresco, a longtime TV man, as its commissioner to be the face of the negotiations. But, this new round of realignment throws a wrench in established plans.

“There’s not a TV executive in America that’s going to offer them [Big East] a TV contract until they can confirm and guarantee who is going to be their in their league,” one BCS source tells Dodd.

The movement of Maryland creates a vacuum in the ACC, possibly to be filled by Connecticut or Louisville, two of the major players remaining in the Big East. Were either of those two to leave, contract negotiations could change dramatically.

According to Dodd, the stipulations of the contract dictate that “if we [Houston] don’t get X percentage of what you [Big East] think the TV contract is worth [we can leave].”

He goes on to write the following:

The source also said prospective new Big East members were told by former commissioner John Marinatto that a new contract would be worth $10 million-$20 million more [per year per school] than what the Big East is currently getting. League schools are currently earning approximately $4 million per year. Conference USA schools currently earn half that number per year.

Industry sources have said for months the new Big East would be lucky to get between $70 million-$100 million per year for the new alignment. That translates to $5.7 million-$7.1 million per year, per school.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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