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Steeper Big 12 exit fees could be coming

Commissioner Dan Beebe and everyone else associated with the Big 12 has trumpeted the league's newfound unity after last year's near-death experience.

Eight teams had an opportunity to leave the Big 12 for another league, but ultimately six of those chose to stay.

Upon their exit, Nebraska and Colorado had a combined $16.1 million in conference revenue withheld from their paychecks, a penalty Beebe called "historic," and one unmatched by any other in the history of college sports.

In the future, it could become even more difficult for teams to leave the Big 12.

"We’re still in the process of studying whether we need to adjust the bylaws that we have, in regard to withdrawal fees," Beebe said. "I think that’ll be carefully reviewed."

The Big 12 hasn't made any changes to the bylaws, which state that the conference withholds 50 percent of the conference revenue if a team gives at least two years notice before it ends its conference membership. The shorter the notice becomes, the more revenue is withheld. If less than a year's notice is given, but more than six months, teams have 90 percent withheld. If less than six months' notice is given, a program has 100 percent of its revenue withheld.

What changes become enacted are still very much in flux, but Beebe senses support for making the withdrawal fees more severe.

"There’s a high degree of interest in looking at that and anything else that will ensure the long-term stability of the conference," he said.

The Big 12's recent 13-year, $1.2 billion television deal was a big step toward the goal, ensuring that every Big 12 program would be cashing significantly higher paychecks at the end of the season.

Making sure less of those paychecks land in the hands of possibly departing members in the future could be the next step.