Category Archives: SEC
“Over the summer, we conducted an extensive, randomized survey of current and former season ticket-holders, as well as met with focus groups throughout the state. Many of you have expressed concern that Gator Boosters and the UAA have not been in tune to the issues facing our loyal fan base, and we have heard you. Based on this feedback, we began developing a plan this fall to address those concerns. Now, before we mail 2014 Gator football season ticket information in December, we want to make you aware of those major changes that we are implementing for our Gator Booster membership.”
The major news here is that there will be no increases in booster contribution levels for at least three years. In addition, payment plans can now be extended from four payments to six.
Desperate move by an athletic department with a 4-4 football team or proactive business move that will shore up the future?
I think it’s the latter. A great misconception about college athletics is that television money is the largest source of revenue for an athletic department. Wrong. It’s contributions.
Last fiscal year, Florida reported $46.1 million in contributions to the athletic department. That’s more than twice the $22.2 million Florida earned from its conference distribution, which included revenue from conference television deals, bowl earnings, March Madness payouts and more.
Based on contributions alone, Florida ranked second among public FBS schools to Texas A&M, which reported $53.4 million. However, due to the accounting differences from school to school, a better comparison is the revenue reported by schools for both ticket sales and contributions. Florida ($69.7 million) comes in fourth behind Texas ($100 million), Texas A&M ($88.4 million) and Michigan ($80.9 million) under that comparison.
To understand the importance of contributions linked to season tickets for football and basketball, consider that 82 percent, or $37.7 million, of Florida’s contributions last fiscal year were attributed to football and basketball.
In addition to freezing prices for boosters, Florida is also making other changes to encourage donors to remain loyal. First, some of the ways in which “Loyalty Points” are accrued are being modified. Instead of five priority points for each consecutive year of having football or basketball season tickets, season ticket holders can now earn 10 points for each consecutive year in each sport. In addition, the Gators are retroactively awarding “Loyalty Milestone Bonus Points” for each decade a booster has football or basketball season tickets.
Booster Loyalty Points will be increased for each consecutive year of having season tickets. Currently, a booster receives five priority points for each consecutive year of having football season tickets and five priority points for each consecutive year of having basketball season tickets. Effective for the 2014 football season and the 2014-15 basketball season, the UAA will increase Loyalty Points for each consecutive year to 10.
Looking to let your tickets go? There will be a three-month window from January 2014 to March 2014 where boosters can transfer their tickets to anyone, even if they’re not family (which is the current rule). Also, the cost of transferring tickets has been decreased.
Hold on to your tickets, however, and you will be awarded opportunities to attend a football practice in 2014 that is not open to the general public.
Alabama Women’s Basketball has announced a new booster club: the Crimson Tide Center Court. A quick look at Alabama women’s basketball’s financials seemingly underscores the need for such a booster club. For fiscal year 2012, the program reported no donations. Ticket sales, conference distributions, licensing, sports camps and other revenues totaled $493,743 for the program, but that wasn’t even enough to cover the $529,072 the athletic department had to send to the university to cover the tuition, room and board of the women’s basketball student athletes, forget paying coaching salaries, travel, equipment, game day and other expenses. At the end of the day, Alabama women’s basketball operated at a deficit of $2.4 million.
Alabama’s situation is not unlike most women’s basketball programs in the country. Although Alabama’s basketball program went 13-18 last season, even the most successful teams on the court struggle with donor support. UConn women’s basketball reported $389,033 in contributions on its financial disclosures. Although higher than UConn men’s basketball ($218,324), it paled in comparison to football’s $2.7 million in donations. Like Alabama, women’s basketball at UConn finished the year at a deficit: $1.3 million.
Louisville, who’s women’s basketball program played for the title against UConn last season, reported women’s basketball donations at $193,074. Nowhere close to the $20.4 million the men’s basketball program brought in – although, it should be noted that no basketball program in the country, men’s or women’s, comes close to Louisville men’s basketball in that department. Louisville women’s basketball joined Alabama and UConn in finishing the year at a financial deficit of $2.3 million.
Football and men’s basketball donations are bolstered by donations required for the right to purchase season tickets, which can be a lofty sum when tickets are in demand. In fact, as I detail in my book Saturday Millionaires, donations to the top football and basketball programs can sometimes be twice as much as television revenue, mistakenly believed by many to be the largest source of revenue for athletic departments.
Women’s basketball, along with every other sport a school sponsors, simply doesn’t have that revenue source. As you can see below, donations to women’s basketball in the SEC are either non-existent or extremely low compared to donations to men’s basketball and football.
|University||Contributions to Women’s Basketball||Contributions to Men’s Basketball||Contributions to Football|
Source: NCAA financial disclosures filed by each university
* Kentucky does not break down contributions by sport on its report
** I’ve asked Mississippi State about this in the past, and they don’t move money over from their booster club for football unless they need the additional revenue
*** Vanderbilt is not subject to open records requests because it is a private university
A couple of caveats on the chart above. First, the amount shown for football donations isn’t necessarily all of the money donated for football in a year, it’s simply the amount the athletic department accepted for the year. Let me explain. Most athletic departments receive donations through a fund-raising entity. If a donation was earmarked for football, but taking in that revenue and spending it on the football program would throw financials out of whack for Title IX purposes, the fund-raising entity will put that money aside for the future.
Here’s an explanation straight from my book, Saturday Millionaires:
The Office of Civil Rights has previously offered this interpretation with regards to boosters or other donors who donate funds for specified sports: “a school cannot use earmarked funds as an economic justification for discrimination.”
In other words, the school can honor the sport-specific designation for such donated funds, but it still must comply with the proportionality requirement. It cannot dedicate those funds to football, throwing the proportionality out of whack, and then say they had to do so because the funds were earmarked. The excess funds that cannot be applied simply have to be put aside for the future, or they can be applied and revenue from other sources can be moved out of football in order to maintain compliance.
Bottom line: just because it looks like your school is receiving the most donations for football from the chart above doesn’t mean it’s true.
As you can clearly see, however, women’s basketball is a long way from raking in the kind of money men’s basketball and football can generate from donations. Will booster clubs geared specifically toward women’s basketball, like the Crimson Tide Center Court club change that? It’s unlikely, but they can certainly help generate some excitement for the program and bring fans together with the team. In the end, I would imagine that’s Alabama’s goal, especially given that Alabama women’s basketball is getting a new coach this year. A coach who will make a reported $400,000 a year – 81% of the program’s total revenue.
If you have more interest in the Crimson Tide Center Court, here are some additional details… Read the rest of this entry
On September 10, 2016, Bristol Motor Speedway will attempt to stage the “Biggest College Football Game Ever” as it hosts the Virginia Tech Hokies and the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
Transformed into a college football stadium, Bristol Motor Speedway will be capable of seating approximately 150,000 fans. If the speedway was filled to capacity, it would eclipse the previous two largest-attended college football games: 120,000 fans at Notre Dame vs. Southern California at Soldier Field in 1927 and 115,109 fans at Michigan vs. Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium this season.
It would take the average crowd for both Tennessee and Virginia Tech home games combined to hit the 150,000 mark. Last season, Tennessee ranked #8 in attendance amongst FBS schools with an average attendance of 89,965, and Virginia Tech ranked 25th with an average of 65,632.
“To be able to play in front of a crowd that is the largest to ever see a college football game is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech head coach. “With the great fan support that Virginia Tech and the University of Tennessee have, it should be a great atmosphere.”
Tennessee is equally as optimistic about the potential to make this, “The Biggest College Football Game Ever.”
“This is an unprecedented opportunity for our football program to play in front of the largest crowd in the history of college football,” said Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics for University of Tennessee, Dave Hart. “Bristol Motor Speedway will be perhaps the most unique venue to ever host a college football game. Tennessee students, faculty, alumni, and fans will look forward to being a part of this great event.”
The evolution from speedway to college football stadium will need to take place over a short period of time, because Bristol will host a NASCAR race the August preceding the Battle at Bristol. Here are some key facts about the transformation provided by Bristol Motor Speedway:
- Immediately following the August 2016 NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway, approximately 400 workers will immediately begin bulk cleaning, and then detailing, the Speedway
- Next an estimated 10-12 crews will begin pressure washing – a process that is normally done in February prior to the March NASCAR weekend
- Separate crews will clean all suites in seven days – a process that normally takes four-to-six weeks
- Turf and field build will be completed in eight days
- Approximately 8,500 tons of rock will be used to build the base of the field
- The rock will be brought in by approximately 400 truckloads. The complete haul-in process will take three, 10-12 hour days
- The base rock will be 3’-6” deep in the middle of the infield tapering to 1-1/2’ on sidelines to create the proper sloping effect for drainage
You can find more details about the event and sign up for ticket and event information at BattleatBristol.com.
UPDATE: The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting each team will receive $4 million as long as they sell at least 40,000 tickets, with escalators that could raise that amount to $4.5 million.
Kristi A. Dosh is an attorney and founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com. Her latest book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires, is available now. Visit SaturdayMillionaires.com for retailers and a sneak peak at the first chapter! Follow her on Twitter: @SportsBizMiss.
They did it again! The Southeastern Conference proved once more that they are the conference to beat with the announcement of the SEC Network. As many know the new network had been silently in the works for a while, and as SEC Commissioner Mike Slive put it today, “Goodbye Project X, and hello SEC Network.” Slive was joined by President of ESPN, John Skipper, to announce that come August 2014 the new network will make its grand debut.
SEC partnered with ESPN for a 20-year agreement extending through 2034, the longest agreement in sports. “The SEC Network will provide an unparalleled fan experience of top quality SEC content presented across the television network and its accompanying digital platforms,” Slive said.
“We will increase the exposure for all 14 of our institutions, and we will showcase the incredible student-athletes in our league.”
The new multiplatform network will air SEC content 24 hours a day and seven days a week, including over 1,000 live events its first year, 450 televised and 550 shown digitally. It will also show 45 live SEC football games annually (including three per week) and more than 100 men’s basketball games, 60 women’s basketball games, 75 baseball games and other events from the league’s 21 sports. Not just that, but programming will also consist of studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, signing day and pro days coverage.
The SEC is following in the footsteps of other conferences with networks such as the Big 10 and Pac-12 but is doing it with a little more finesse. What makes this deal so unique from the others (besides ESPN’s name being attached) is that the league partnered with its primary rights holder, ultimately allowing more movement through the distributors. “This is not a regional network,” Skipper said. “This is a national network.”
“We’re confident this is a new and unique opportunity, nothing like this has been done before,” Skipper said. “[T]he level of distribution we’ll have at the beginning, the quality of the production, the amount of the games that we’ll have, the sort of integration with digital platforms, is taking this to a whole new level”
AT&T U-Verse, the fastest growing television provider in the U.S., has been secured as the networks first national distributor.
CBS will continue to have the first pick of SEC games each week, but will no longer have an exclusive window at 3:30 p.m. as it has in past years. After CBS chooses its game, the decision on what will air on SEC Network versus other ESPN platforms will be made by a “content board.”
Slive declined to answer any questions on the financial details when asked about specifics of ownership percentages but did say, “both ESPN and SEC are happy.”
ESPN affiliate sales and marketing will oversee the network’s day-to-day operations. The network will originate from ESPN’s Charlotte, N.C., offices with additional staff located at the company’s Bristol, Connecticut headquarters. Staff announcements and additional details will be made in the coming months.
Follow Mackenzie on Twitter @KenzieThirkill
Selena Roberts’ serious allegations against the Auburn athletics department earlier this week caused an uproar among members of the media and college football fans. If true, the story’s accusations of rampant drug use by football players, coaches handing players money under the table and academic officials changing football players’ grades to ensure their eligibility, are enough to turn Auburn athletics on its head. Tucked away in the story, though, is an issue more pressing and with greater possible harm than any NCAA sanction can impose. It is one that may cost former Auburn football player, Mike McNeil, his freedom.
McNeil is currently facing trial on two felony counts of first-degree robbery. The charges stem from allegations that four former Auburn football players robbed a home while armed. While building allegations of Auburn’s alleged athletic improprieties to a crescendo, Roberts quickly slipped a fact into her story that a trained legal eye would not let go unnoticed. Eight paragraphs into Roberts’ Auburn expose, was the following quote,
“To show you how innocent he is, Mike is willing to go to trial because he says he didn’t do it,” says Ben Hand, who recently was dismissed as McNeil’s attorney after the family formally complained that he had a conflict of interest. “Mike McNeil didn’t rob anyone.”
As it turns out, McNeil’s attorney previously represented a man who lived in the house that McNeil allegedly robbed. In the legal world, this is called a “conflict of interest.” And in the legal world, a conflict of interest is a reason for which a criminal defendant can appeal the outcome of his case, should he be convicted.
Roberts’ assertion in her article that Hand was dismissed as McNeil’s attorney is incorrect. That is because today, the Auburn educated judge hearing McNeil’s case ruled that Hand could not withdraw as counsel for McNeil’s case. Rather, McNeil’s case will proceed to trial next Monday.
At that trial, McNeil faces three options when it comes to legal representation. The first, is to be represented by a lawyer who once represented someone whose home McNeil allegedly robbed. The second is for McNeil, without a college degree, to represent himself in a felony case in which he faces 21 years to life in prison. The third option, is for McNeil to hire a new attorney who will assist his conflicted attorney. That attorney will have 72 hours to prepare for a trial that took the prosecution nearly two years to bring to fruition.
Arguably, there is not an attractive choice present in this bunch. As depicted above, Hand has maintained McNeil’s innocence to the media and will likely advocate zealously for him. Additionally, the presiding judge in McNeil’s case, in ruling that Hand cannot withdraw from the case, determined that the prosecution will only proceed to trial against McNeil on two charges, as opposed to the seven charges he was originally facing. This was based upon the judge’s finding that conflicts existed between Hand and those charges, but were not present in the two charges McNeil continues to face. Regardless of these facts, questions likely persist in McNeil’s mind as to whether his attorney bears any biases towards him and if he will receive a fair shot at justice.
As the time on the clock dwindles down to McNeil’s trial date, a review of 11th Circuit (the circuit in which Alabama is located) and Supreme Court case law is necessary. One basis upon which a defendant can appeal his conviction is for ineffective assistance of counsel. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a criminal defendant’s right to effective assistance of counsel is violated where a defendant’s attorney has an actual conflict of interest that affects the defendant adversely. Something is an actual conflict of interest when a lawyer has inconsistent interests. 11th circuit case law says that a conflict of interest exists when a defendant can point to specific instances in the record to suggest an actual conflict or impairment of interest. Specific instances could include an attorney choosing to elicit or failing to elicit evidence helpful to one client but harmful to another.
The question here, then, is does Hand have inconsistent interests when it comes to representing McNeil? While Hand represented a resident of the home McNeil allegedly robbed, that representation came on an unrelated matter that occurred prior to the alleged robbery. Given the differential between the matters and the time that has passed sense, does an actual conflict exist?
If an actual conflict of interest existed, case law also requires that the conflict adversely affected the counsel’s performance in order to successfully appeal on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. A defendant must show three things to prove an adverse effect: 1. That the defense attorney could have pursued a plausible alternative strategy, 2. that the alternative strategy was reasonable and 3. that the alternative strategy was not followed because it conflicted with the attorney’s external loyalties.
At this stage, only McNeil and Hand know what alternative strategies exist, if any. And at this stage, it is likely that they are the only two people who know why one defense strategy was chosen over another.
Should McNeil be convicted and wish to appeal his case, the real question that may persist is whether he waived his right to conflict-free counsel. A defendant waives his right to conflict-free counsel when he chooses to proceed to trial with an attorney who has an adverse conflict of interest. Arguably, this decision could bar an appeal on this issue, as the Supreme Court case of Johnson v. Zerbst found that a “waiver of the right to conflict-free counsel ‘disposes of the need to evaluate the actual or potential ineffectiveness of counsel caused by the alleged conflicts of interests.’” To demonstrate a waiver, it must be shown that the defendant was aware of the conflict, recognized it could impact his defense and knew of his right to obtain other counsel. Notably, today, the presiding judge in McNeil’s case advised him of his right to proceed to trial without an attorney or with a new attorney to assist Hand. It is to be seen what decision McNeil makes.
Many unknowns face Mike McNeil at this moment. The decisions facing McNeil as his trial approaches are lofty. Truth be told, they are likely as big as the choice he made to commit to playing football at Auburn University.
Follow Alicia Jessop on Twitter @RulingSports.
The University of Kentucky has recently announced a unique building project and partnership. The details can be found at UKNOW, the university’s own news site. Here are the highlights:
• A $65 million renovation and expansion of the Gatton College of Business and Economics. The $65 million project will be initially funded with $25 million in gifts and $40 million in agency bonds, approved by the legislature.
• The $100 million construction of a Science and Academic Building. The 263,000 square foot building will be funded by agency bonds and is the result of a partnership with athletics unlike any other in the country. UK Athletics will fund 65 percent of the building’s debt service ― or, in total, about $65 million.
• A $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and the Nutter Training and Recruiting Center. The project ― which will add suites and club seating, while improving the fan experience throughout the stadium ― will be paid for by agency bonds and funded through the construction of suites. UK already has a waiting list for suites.
The first thing that stands out is an athletic department building announcement, particularly one from a major program, being included in an announcement of general university projects. Yes, all of the projects were approved on the same day but it is rare to see a university present such a united front with its athletic department. Keeping with that theme, the second bullet point contains an incredible nugget: the athletics department will fund over half of the cost of a campus building completely unrelated to athletics. In fact, all three projects will be funded by the university without the use of state funds. The project is being called BBNUnited. BBN, of course, stands for Big Blue Nation, the common nickname for Kentucky’s fan base. While many athletic departments donate money to their university (often to the general scholarship fund), very few make the sort of commitment that Kentucky has.
Critics of college athletics often lament how much is spent by athletic departments. Those critics believe, sometimes mistakenly, that university money that should be for academics is being used for athletics. This is certainly an old debate that dates back to at least the 1930’s when Chicago disbanded its athletics program and left the Big Ten in an attempt to focus on academics. In turn, to improve its enrollment and academics, Michigan State invested heavily in athletics and claimed the vacant spot in the conference. Details about the Chicago/Michigan State debate can be found in this book.
More recently, Spellman College similarly disbanded its Division III athletic program last fall. Citing concerns over spending one million dollars each year to benefit 80 student-athletes, the female only college decided to close the program. The money previously used for athletics will be used to support a new college-wide fitness program that will theoretically be utilized by all 2,100 students.
Clearly, there are vocal proponents of college athletics as well. As a result of Florida Gulf Coast’s recent tournament run, the old phrase about athletics being “the front porch of the university” has been thrown around at every chance. March Madness often highlights the good that college athletic departments can provide to a university. This includes national exposure and thousands, if not millions, of on-campus visitors each year. While it is well known that athletics can bring unmatched exposure for some universities, it is refreshing to see an athletic department so invested, literally and figuratively, in its university.
ESPN sports business reporter Kristi Dosh (who also happens to be BusinessofCollegeSports.com’s founder) had a piece yesterday giving some perspective to University of Tennessee’s financial situation. One of the points she makes is that Tennessee’s outstanding debt on athletic facilities isn’t out of line with the rest of the SEC.
Here’s a look at outstanding facilities debt at each SEC school and the annual debt service (payments) for the 2010-2011 school year (the most recent available). All information is from NCAA financial disclosures. Vanderbilt’s information is not available via public records requests.
2010-2011 SEC Athletics Debt
|School||Outstanding Athletics Debt||Athletics Annual Debt Service|
|Alabama||$207.2 million||$13.3 million|
|Louisiana State||$202.0 million||$13.5 million|
|Tennessee||$188.1 million||$7.7 million|
|Georgia||$120.8 million||$7.9 million|
|South Carolina||$112.9 million||$3.5 million|
|Auburn||$106.1 million||$10.1 million|
|Florida||$80.8 million||$5.8 million|
|Arkansas||$64.1 million||$7.3 million|
|Texas A&M||$45.8 million||$6.6 million|
|Mississippi||$41.8 million||$4.6 million|
|Missouri||$26.8 million||$3.1 million|
|Mississippi State||$24.8 million||$2.3 million|
|Kentucky||$18.7 million||$2.7 million|
As Dosh points out in her article, this isn’t a true apples to apples comparison. For example, she notes Kentucky carries no debt on Rupp Arena, because it’s owned by the city. Check out her piece for more information.
Documents obtained from University of Tennessee show its football season ticket base has dropped by approximately 10,000 people since 2009. However, net revenue (profit) from football remains above average amongst other SEC members:
Football Net Revenue 2010-2011
|South Carolina||$35.4 million|
|Texas A&M*||$30.0 million|
|Mississippi State||$10.8 million|
*Texas A&M and Missouri were not yet members of the SEC in 2010-2011
The real issue, as noted in Dosh’s article, is the limited reserves Tennessee athletics currently has on hand: $1.95 million. That is one area not in line with other SEC schools, as AD Dave Hart notes in Dosh’s piece.
By: James Maddox
Recently, the University of Kentucky launched kfundonline.com, a website dedicated to athletic fundraising efforts. One of the main purposes of the website is to help raise funds for upgrades to Commonwealth Stadium where the football team plays.
The website states that the stadium will undergo a $110 million renovation beginning later this year and ending in time for the 2015-2016 season. Stadium upgrades will consist of additional suites and club seats, new press facilities, upgrades to the Nutter Training Center, and a new team store, amongst other additions and improvements. The school is also considering reducing the seating to improve the quality and value of the remaining seats, in hopes of increasing the game day experience for fans.
Known for its prominent basketball program that is coming off a national championship last season, it is clear the athletic department at the University of Kentucky is making strides to compete with their conference foes in football in the financial arena. According to the latest available data, the SEC powerhouses that have won a championship in the past 10 years, such as Alabama, Auburn, and Florida, reported a net income of at least $40 million during the 2010-2011 year; Kentucky only cleared half of that. During that same time period Alabama, Auburn, and Florida spent at least $1.2 million on facility upgrades; Kentucky spent approximately $101,548.
UK seems to be making the right steps to create a more well-rounded athletics program. Their website has also stated intentions to improve Memorial Coliseum where the volleyball and women’s basketball teams play.
Newly hired football coach Mark Stoops took to Twitter to give his stamp of approval of the renovation of the football facilities. He recently tweeted “Renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and Nutter Training Center will be fun for fans and help our recruiting. #BBNUnited”.
Guest author: Tyler Jamieson (BusinessofCollegeSports.com Intern)
When it comes to cash the SEC is king…
…but just barely. NCAA disclosures (and EADA reports for private schools) from the 2010-2011 school year (the most recent available) reveal that the SEC is top dog when it comes to revenue. In 2011, schools from the SEC and Big Ten conferences both posted revenues of over $1 billion. The SEC earned top billing with earnings of $1,080,219,133, with the Big Ten right behind at $1,078,727,312.
The SEC also led the nation with a staggering 5 schools posting revenues of over $100 million. Leading the way was Alabama ($124,498,616), followed by Florida ($123,514,257), LSU ($107,259,352), Tennessee ($104,368,992), and Auburn ($103,982,441). The Big Ten was second with 3 schools over $100 million: Ohio State ($131,815,821), Michigan ($122,739,052), and Penn State ($116,118,025). The Big 12 had two schools over $100 million: Texas, with the highest overall net revenue in the country ($150,295,926), and Oklahoma ($104,338,844).
What’s even more impressive about the SEC’s revenue numbers is how far they have climbed since 2004-2005. Since 2004-2005 the conference as a whole has almost doubled their revenue, skyrocketing from approximately $600 million to over $1 billion. Over that time the average SEC school’s revenue has jumped from approximately $55 million to a little over $91 million, which is a robust 71% increase.
Once again amongst the notables is Alabama who doubled their revenue from $62 million to $124 million, no doubt due to recent success on the football field with the hiring of Nick Saban and 2 National Championships in the past 3 years. Also among the big movers was Mississippi State who back in 2004-2005 had a very paltry (by SEC standards) revenue of $26 million. In 2010-2011 the Bulldogs took the SEC crown for highest percentage climb in revenue since 2004-2005 with a 131% increase up to $59 million, but that still leaves them at less than half of Alabama and Florida are earning.
With a $3 billion television deal set to kick off in 2012, the PAC-12 is in position for some serious growth. In 2010-2011, the conference had the 2 lowest net revenue earners for all automatic-qualifier conferences. Utah, still transitioning from its move from the Mountain West Conference, had a revenue of $38 million, and Washington State came in at just under $40 million. Those numbers will no doubt see hugely significant increases in the coming years with each school in the conference estimated to receive over $20 million a year from the new TV deal.
Today, the Big 12 and SEC announced that they have entered into a five-year contract which will allow champion of each conference to play each other in a New Year’s Day bowl game beginning in 2014. The contract is tailored to fit in with the new four-team playoff model, in that if the respective Big 12 and SEC champions are set to play in that game, different schools from each conference will play in the Big 12 and SEC match-up.
In making this announcement, the Big 12 and SEC have kept themselves ahead of the game when it comes to the reorganization of the college football playoff structure resulting from the expiration of the BCS’ current deal. This should come as no surprise to college football fans, as SEC commissioner Mike Slive has been at the forefront of proposing captivating alternatives to the current BCS system. It was Slive who first suggested the four-team playoff system, which will likely be adopted as the new BCS alternative. Today, Slive has once again protected the football notoriety of his conference, and the Big 12 has done the same, by ensuring that one team from each conference is present in a major, New Year’s Day bowl game.
The possibilities for this match-up are nearly endless, and quite fascinating. When considering the conference realignment landscape that took Big 12 programs Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, this proposal raises the possibility that those two teams could someday face off against former rivals on national television on New Year’s Day. For fans mourning the end of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry, this agreement presents the opportunity for the rivalry to flourish on a large-scale stage. Understandably, that would require both teams to become the champion of their football-competitive conference–but, at least it’s a possibility.
Questions remain about how the bowl will be orchestrated. For instance, it is unknown whether it will be held in a set location annually, like the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s Rose Bowl, or if it will travel to a new location each year. Given that SEC and Big 12 fans travel more than fans from other conferences, it may be worth each conference’s time to investigate the possibility of rotating the bowl game throughout various sites. This would open up the possibility of attending the game to more of the fans who are diehard supporters of SEC and Big 12 football. Additionally, it would raise the possibility of introducing each conference’s respective teams to new markets.
In the future, issues that will need to be addressed as a result of this bowl marriage relate to the bowls that each conference is currently aligned with. For instance, the Big 12 champion plays in the Fiesta Bowl each year. Will that continue? Is it possible that the agreement will result in the Fiesta Bowl being one of the sites that the bowl rotates through? Furthermore, what will happen to the current Big 12 No. 2-SEC No. 4 or 5 matchup, better known as the Cotton Bowl? Like the possibility just noted about the Fiesta Bowl, could this new bowl also rotate through the Cotton Bowl location? What will become of the SEC champion hosting Sugar Bowl?
My hunch is that the bowls will not agree to a game which rotates amongst them. Such would not be lucrative to the bowls. Thus, what the Big 12 and SEC have done with this move, is to strip the respective bowls of their power and transfer it to themselves. In doing so, they’ve opened up a bidding war of sorts, where the bowls will be expected to woo them with options. If none is suitable to the conferences, my guess is that they will launch a new bowl which will rotate throughout Big 12 and SEC locations.
Overall, this is a great move by the Big 12 and SEC. It is so, because it is a move that keeps them on top of the bowl shuffling/college football playoff landscape.