Big 12 logo Nov 10, 2022; Lubbock, Texas, USA; A general view of the Big 12 logo on the floor before the game between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Texas Southern Tigers at United Supermarkets Arena. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The commercialization of college football is upon us and the Big XII is prepared to take a leap that no conference has yet taken before – a huge private equity investment and selling naming rights to the conference itself.

The Big XII has survived the latest round of conference realignment because of its aggressiveness in getting deals done. After all, the Big XII cutting in line to get a new long-term television deal done before the Pac-12 is arguably the main factor as to the league’s existence today while the Pac-12 met its demise.

But even with the Big XII securing their future, the conference is still far, far behind the new Power 2 of the Big Ten and SEC when it comes to television revenue. So the Big XII is looking at a new avenue to earn money.

Not a game, not a series of games, not a tournament – the entire conference according to ESPN’s Pete Thamel.

How does the ExxonMobil 12 Presented by CVC Capital Partners sound to everyone?

This comes along with a report from Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports that the Big XII is also pursuing a private equity investment from, seriously, a Luxembourg-based company. The potential partnership could see the Big XII sell a 15-20% stake in the conference to CVC Capital Partners in exchange for a cash infusion of $800 million to $1 billion.

In its wanting to leave the ACC, Florida State had announced a pursuit of private equity to try to keep pace with the true power class in college athletics. But an entire conference pursuing such sponsorship and equity deals is next level. Why is the Big XII considering such drastic steps? Because they simply need to do so to stay alive.

More from CBS Sports:

No league has ever been this close to a private equity investment of this kind.

Big 12 teams are currently earning $31.7 million each with Fox and ESPN in a media rights deal that ends in 2031. Add in the cash infusion from private equity, and the two revenue streams would combine to move the Big 12  “much closer” to the Big Ten media rights deal, according to a person with intimate knowledge of the proposal.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with its schools set to earn approximately $75 million per year after it signed a new media rights agreement with Fox, CBS and NBC. (Oregon and Washington are not receiving full shares initially as they enter the league July 1.)

The Big XII runs far behind the other power conferences in revenue in everything from television contracts to new College Football Playoff payouts. In the 2023 Fiscal Year, the Big XII was a distant fifth in the Power 5 revenue standings at $510.7 million, even behind the major power conference that doesn’t exist anymore. The Big Ten led the way at $880 million, the SEC scored $852.6 million, the ACC came in third at $707 million and even the Pac-12 made $603.9 million.

In the new era of college football where players may be paid directly, universities and conferences are going to go all-out in monetizing everything imaginable. That could extend from jersey patches to field-level sponsors even to now selling naming rights to entire leagues. It is ironic that this total sell-out comes only after the sport realizes it has to legitimately pay college athletes and with the historic House v. NCAA settlement effectively ending the ‘sham’ of amateurism. Clearly everyone involved in college athletics is going to find whatever sponsorship, private equity, and revenue sources they can to help foot the bill.