Big Ten is dealing with a mess its former commissioner left behind

Here is a story of a conference commissioner being sloppy and ineffective, and it does not involve Larry Scott. It turns out that when former Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren arranged the TV deals for the new era of the conference, with USC and UCLA as incoming members, that “arrangement” was very loose and not tied down with specifics.

Pete Thamel of ESPN came out earlier this week with a report on just how dysfunctional Warren’s handling of TV contracts was.

Here’s a small snippet from Thamel’s story, which illustrates a portion of the fallout from this mess the Big Ten and new commissioner Tony Petitti are scrambling to contain:

“They are going to have to pay back nearly $40 million to Fox because, according to sources, Warren delivered NBC the Big Ten football title game in 2026 without the full authority to do so. This all has unfolded under the complicated backdrop of the Big Ten conference not actually controlling the rights to the inventory of this latest deal — the Big Ten Network does, which is majority owned by Fox. (More on that below.)”

Basically, unfinished TV contracts and unclarified terms which some Big Ten schools are unhappy with are leading to a nasty combination: On one hand, the Big Ten is having to pay back some of its TV partners. On the other hand, the full value of previously negotiated — but uncompleted — TV deals might not be realized. Big Ten schools and athletic departments are confronting the reality that previous budgetary projections exceed actual incoming revenue.

Yes, the Big Ten is still going to make a ton of money for its member schools, but no one likes, wants or needs to receive a set of projections and then realize the actual numbers will be several millions of dollars short, quite possibly tens of millions short.

This is Kevin Warren’s mess. Larry Scott can relate. Tony Petitti is playing the role of George Kliavkoff, trying to clean up what his predecessor left behind.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire