I wanted to provide some brief thoughts on several hot topics in college sports today, so here we go:
College Football Super-Division
Back in February, I provided some analysis and predictions about the future of the NCAA. Specifically I discussed the idea of four BCS super- conferences, the possible separation of those schools from the NCAA, and the possible creation of a new football division for the BCS schools. The jury is still out on super-conferences (though things have stabilized for now with all but the SEC schools granting their television rights to their conferences), and defecting from the NCAA still doesn’t seem to have much momentum. However the idea of a new football division is picking up steam.
The BCS schools, through the voice of their conference commissioners, are saying enough. Their aggravated tone and sense of urgency leaps off the page. No longer will they allow the simple majority of the “have-nots” to out vote them at every turn, on every initiative, and on anything they can’t or don’t want to pay for (stipends anyone?). A fourth division is coming to an NCAA school near you, and it could be sooner rather than later. Even the college athletics watchdog Knight Commission came out over the summer with a recommendation that the division be considered.
What does a fourth division mean? Well, it depends. Most importantly in my view, it restores some sanity to all Division I football programs and athletic departments. The idea that schools in the Sun Belt or MAC are on playing the same game as those in the SEC or Pac-12 is ridiculous. What’s worse, pressuring those schools, administrators, donors/alumni, coaches and athletes to compete with BCS level schools both on the field and in the financial arms race is unrealistic and harmful.
The NCAA did something right this week by granting back some of Penn State’s scholarships taken away in the wake of the Sandusky debacle. It simply had no business wading into criminal matters that it does not legislate; and while this certainly doesn’t make what it did to Penn State right, it provides hope there is at least some clear thinking going on today in Indianapolis.
As I’m writing this post, news is breaking that the O’Bannon plaintiffs have settled their dispute with two of the three defendants in the case, EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC). It appears EA Sports will no longer produce its college football game, though the terms of the settlement were not yet disclosed. This of course still leaves the NCAA as the lone defendant, and the case against it will presumably continue.
Those of you who have been following the Ed O’Bannon case probably know we’ve been waiting for the big ruling regarding whether or not the plaintiffs will be certified as a class (dramatically upping the stakes). The hearing on this issue occurred in June, and since then we’ve seen several procedural tactics but nothing too critical to the ultimate outcome of the case.
This week we’ve also seen the NCAA beef up its legal team, as well comment they are prepared to go all the way to the Supreme Court. This isn’t too surprising at this point in the proceedings; and it will be interesting to see if the tough talk continues if/when the plaintiffs are certified as a class.
Quite frequently in the debate over the BCS there are comparisons to March Madness. Proponents of moving to a playoff system point to the approximately $771 million a year (beginning in 2011) March Madness generates in television alone (previously an average of $545 million). Meanwhile, the BCS bowls will generate just $125 million beginning in 2011 (previously$96.4 million per year ).
While it’s true March Madness generates more television revenue overall, that doesn’t necessarily mean more money for each athletic department. A total of $452,200,000 was distributed by the NCAA in 2010-2011, and less than half of all monies distributed went back into the athletic department with no strings attached (via the Basketball Fund). Here’s the breakdown:
Basketball Fund ($180,467,000): Monies are distributed based on a six-year rolling period. Institutions receive one unit for each appearance, not including the championship game. Each unit was worth $239,664 in 2010-2011.
Academic Enhancement ($22,461,000): Each Division I institution gets $66,000 to use for academic support service for student-athletes.
Conference Grants ($8,115,000): Each conference receives $261,744 less an agreed upon amount remitted to the regional officiating advisors program. Funds must be used to improve officiating, enhance conference compliance and enforcement programs, drug abuse education, enhancement of opportunities for ethnic minorities, and development of gambling education programs.
Sports Sponsorship Fund ($60,155,000): Each school’s share is determined based on the number of varsity sports sponsored. Points begin with the 14th sport (the number required in Division I), and $30,091 is distributed for each sport above thirteen. These monies may be directed to individual institutions or to the conference for distribution, as decided upon by each conference.
Grants-In-Aid Fund ($120,309,000): Each school’s share is determined based on the number of grants-in-aid awarded. These monies may be directed to individual institutions or to the conference for distribution, as decided upon by each conference.
Student Assistance Fund ($59,738,000): This fund also consists of the Special Assistance Fund and the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund. For the Student Assistance Fund, all athletes are eligible to receive these funds, even if they have exhausted eligibility or no longer participate due to medical reasons. These monies are distributed to the conference who decides how to allocate. This fund is to be used to assist student-athletes with financial needs that “arise in conjunction with participation in intercollegiate athletics, enrollment in an academic curriculum or that recognize academic achievement. The Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund is distributed by conferences based on the formula used for sports sponsorship and grants-in-aid. The Special Assistance Fund is to be used to meet student-athlete financial needs of an emergency or essential nature for which other financial aid is not available.
Supplemental Support Fund ($955,000): Used to support campus-based initiatives designed to foster student-athlete academic success at eligible limited resource institutions.
At the end of the day, most conferences receive larger payouts from the BCS than March Madness when it comes to money going back into the athletic department with no strings attached. Below is a look at the payouts for the past four years. Totals in red reflect conferences who received a larger payout from basketball than football for the given year. You should also note the football payouts indicated for the non-AQ conferences (Mountain West, Mid-American, Sun Belt, C-USA and Western Athletic) are based on the payout from the BCS before the agreement between the conferences to split BCS money equally between all non-AQ conferences kicks in. Also, these numbers do not include payouts for non-BCS bowl games.
I think it’s interesting to note that AQ football conferences are bringing in more from March Madness than non-AQ football conferences. Some of that has to do with the smaller size of some of the non-AQ conferences, but it’s still rather sizeable disparity. Nonetheless, I imagine people still find the March Madness system more digestible because it is a playoff system and because payouts are based on number of appearances.
Special thanks to my research assistant Eric Heckman for helping me compile the data.
The first interesting thing I noticed on UGA’s budget is that they break down ticket revenue for football by game. Here’s what they are projecting for each home and neutral site game this season:
|New Mexico State||$2,825,000|
You’ll note the hit UGA takes for each of the two neutral site games against Boise State and Florida: about $1 million each. In total, however, the football program is projected to make $20,045,000 from ticket sales. Comparatively, the four other sports that sell tickets (men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and gymnastics) are only projected to make $1,400,000.
It’s tough to do a direct comparison between Ohio State and UGA on a line item basis because their budgets are set up a little differently. However, it does appear that Ohio State is making a great deal more than UGA when it comes to football. Ohio State is projected to make $36,399,540 from ticket sales for the 2011 season. When you add in UGA’s sky suite revenue to the $20,045,000 ticket revenue discussed above the grand total is $25,568,400. UGA does have only 6 home games (with two neutral site games) while Ohio State has 7, and there’s a large capacity difference with Ohio State at 102,329 and UGA at 92,746.
In terms of total football revenue, it’s tough to compare the two schools line by line. For example, Ohio State shows $1,715,000 in concessions for just football, whereas UGA only shows concessions revenue for the athletic department as a whole at $1,250,000. Clearly Ohio State is making more regardless, but it’s one example of how a side-by-side comparison isn’t going to be perfect.
One thing I can compare for you is television money. Ohio State projects television revenue of $11,415,300 for football. UGA projects just $9,450,000, the difference no doubt due to the Big Ten Network. However, UGA’s projection for 2010-2011 was a bit low, so it’s likely they’ll see a little more money than projected for 2011-2012. UGA budgeted for $8.96 million in 2010-2011 and last week found out its share would instead be $9.42 million, making its $9.45 million projection for 2011-2012 likely low.
One area where UGA fans will probably be excited by the comparison, however, is recruiting budget. Ohio State shows a recruiting budget of $438,500 for football while UGA’s is at $600,000. That’s despite UGA trailing Ohio State by about $12 million in football revenue by my estimation. I was a bit surprised by this difference, as I assumed Ohio State traveled out of state for recruiting more than Georgia who has such a strong recruiting base in-state. You know what they say about assumptions. I tallied up the in-state student on both rosters and found this: UGA (65), Ohio State (64).
Another interesting comparison is revenue from the conference playoff game. UGA is projected to make $1.3 million from the SEC’s game, while Ohio State is projecting just $904,000 for the Big Ten’s inaugural game. I also think it’s possible UGA will make more than projected, as I received this budget before the SEC announced distributions for the 2010-2011 school year. The Orlando Sentinel reported that $15.3 million was split by the SEC’s 12 schools for the 2010 SEC Championship Game, which would have amounted to $1.275 million per school. The budget I have shows UGA only projecting $1 million for 2010 with an increase to $1.3 million for 2011. I’d put my money on the final figure in 2011 being higher than UGA’s budgeted amount. Obviously, Ohio State could also see more money than budgeted as the Big Ten Championship Game will be the conference’s first and is probably projected conservatively.
If you’re interested in UGA’s complete expense budget for football, here it is:
|Local Bus Service||$18,500||$20,000|
|Recruiting & Coaches Travel||$600,000||$600,000|
|Filming & Video||$91,400||$122,320|
|Pre/Post Season Training||$200,000||$210,000|
Yesterday I showed you how each conference’s television contracts compare in terms of first and second tier rights fees. I didn’t cover third tier rights because they’re so hard to track down. Some third tier rights are bundled by the conference as a whole and sold to regional networks while others are retained by each individual school and sold to a local or regional network.
What I can show you is what each school is showing as revenue for broadcasting rights (television, radio and internet) through their responses to open records requests. This is separate from the money they receive from conference distributions, so it shouldn’t include any broadcasting money received from conference-wide media rights contracts.
The chart below is every school for which I have a value and represents the 2009-2010 school year. Those not listed either showed $0 or did not have to respond to open records requests (either because they’re private or protected by state laws).
|1||University of North Carolina||$11,171,458.00|
|2||University of Alabama||$8,444,674.00|
|3||University of Kentucky||$7,743,327.00|
|4||University of Florida||$7,450,000.00|
|5||University of Kansas||$7,276,988.00|
|6||Louisiana State University||$7,012,730.00|
|7||Oklahoma State University||$6,395,000.00|
|8||University of Tennessee||$6,293,621.00|
|9||Oregon State University||$6,267,671.00|
|10||University of Georgia||$6,231,392.00|
|11||University of Wisconsin||$5,547,740.00|
|13||University of Nebraska||$4,393,529.00|
|14||University of Missouri||$4,081,549.00|
|16||Kansas State University||$3,263,941.00|
|17||Iowa State University||$2,608,896.00|
|18||North Carolina State University||$2,470,750.00|
|19||Penn State University||$2,362,500.00|
|20||Ohio State University||$2,329,462.00|
|21||University of South Carolina||$1,829,000.00|
|22||University of Connecticut||$1,749,796.00|
|23||University of Louisville||$1,675,000.00|
|24||University of Mississippi||$1,658,650.00|
|25||University of Iowa||$1,500,000.00|
|27||University of Washington||$1,248,599.00|
University of Illinois
|29||University of Cincinnati||$1,000,000.00|
|30||University of Arkansas||$950,000.00|
|32||Michigan State University||$660,025.00|
|33||University of South Florida||$588,298.00|
|34||Washington State University||$562,098.00|
|35||West Virginia University||$404,284.00|
|36||Florida State University||$349,869.00|
|37||University of Texas||$338,171.00|
|38||University of Minnesota||$324,000.00|
|39||University of Oklahoma||$317,361.00|
|40||University of Colorado||$155,528.00|
|41||University of Oregon||$108,452.00|
Because I know fans enjoy arguing about which conference is better, here are the averages for each conference (keep in mind, however, each conference has one or more schools whose numbers aren’t available):
Big 12: $2,620,997
Big Ten: $1,389,879
Big East: $902,896
Don’t give these averages too much weight in terms of comparing conferences. Tough to really compare the conferences, because the third-tier rights left for each school to sell individually varies greatly by conference based on what third-tier rights have been packaged by the conference as a whole.
If you’re interested in seeing a conference-by-conference breakdown, follow the jump…
UPDATED INFO AVAILABLE: Kristi has posted an updated breakdown of the television contracts on ESPN.com (5/10/12).
My search for details on all of the current television deals for each conference in one place failed. Which must mean BusinessofCollegeSports.com needs to compile all the details in one easy-to-find place, right?
To understand the chart, you first need to understand the types of rights available. Here is a very general explanation. First-tier rights are for football and/or basketball games broadcast nationally. Second-tier rights are for football and/or basketball games not selected by the first-tier rights holder. Third-tier rights are any games not selected by the first or second-tier rights holders and rights for all sports other than football and basketball. These rights are often sold on a per-school basis (not negotiated by the conference as a whole) and often go to regional networks (like Comcast Sports Southeast, Raycom, or SportsNet New York) or can be reserved for networks like the Big Ten Network and the Texas Longhorn Network.
All that being said, deals are now being done for multiple tiers. For example, the Pac-12′s new deal with ESPN and Fox covers first and second tier rights. Meanwhile, the ACC’s new deal that begins this fall covers football, men’s and women’s basketball, Olympic sports and all conference championship games. Basically, it’s an all-inclusive package with a sublicensing arrangement in place with Raycom for games not broadcast by ESPN.
|First-Tier Rights||Term of First-Tier Rights||Second-Tier Rights||Term of Second-Tier Rights||Total Per Year Average|
|Big 12||$480,000,000 (ESPN)||8 Years||$1,170,000,000 (Fox)||13 Years||$150,000,000|
|Pac-12||$3,000,000,000 (ESPN and Fox) for first and second-tier; 12 years (12/13-23/24)||$250,000,000|
|ACC||$1,860,000,000 (ESPN) for all-inclusive; 12 years (11/12-22/23)||$155,000,000|
|SEC||$825,000,000 (CBS)||15 Years||$2,250,000,000 (ESPN)||15 Years||$205,000,000|
|Big Ten||$1,000,000,000 (ESPN)||10 Years||$2,800,000,000 (BTN)||25 Years||$212,000,000|
|Big East||$200,000,000 (ESPN)||6 Years||$54,000,000 (CBS)||6 Years||$42,333,333|
Some caveats are in order now that you’ve seen the chart. Keep in mind that the per year number is an average. It is not necessarily what each school gets each year. A number of these contracts have escalator clauses, including the new Pac-10/12 contract. In the early years of that contract, it will be $180 million per year (or $15 million per school) and in the later years it escalates, according to Larry Scott via conference call on Wednesday following the contract’s announcement.
Though it doesn’t fit in the chart, you can’t forget the money Texas is receiving for The Longhorn Network. They’ve been guaranteed $300 million over the next 20 years from ESPN. Similarly, the amount listed above for Big Ten Network revenue is a projected amount which could grow if the network exceeds expectations.
Deals for third-tier rights are too cumbersome to cover here. Some third-tier rights are bundled by conferences and sold to regional networks while others are retained by schools and sold individually to local or regional networks. More on that in a future post.
The next contract we expect to hear about is out of the Big East. Rumors of a new deal have been circulating lately and reports have it that they were close to a deal with ESPN but considering shopping on the open market. Numbers floating around for a deal with ESPN were in the $110-130 million range per year, which would more than triple their current contract. With the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 now all on the ESPN family of stations, can the Big East get a deal with enough exposure from them?
And what will happen with the Big 12′s first-tier rights? I’ve heard a lot of comparisons between their recent deal with Fox and the Pac-10/12′s new deal announced yesterday with ESPN. I think it’s comparing apples to oranges. It should be no big shock that the Pac-10/12 would receive more money for their first tier rights than the Big 12 received for their second tier rights. Let’s wait and see what kind of dough the Big 12 commands when their first tier rights are up for grabs in the next few years.
UPDATE: I’ve posted school-specific broadcasting revenue from third tier rights sold individually here.
Special thanks to Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias for helping me track down the elusive value of CBS’s contract with the Big East!
Here’s a little bonus for the weekend if you liked the stories on which programs rely the most heavily on student activity fees (SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 breakdown here – ACC, Pac-10 and Big East breakdown here).
The top ten schools by dollar amount:
|1||University of South Florida||$13,026,289.00||33.24%|
|2||University of Virginia||$12,160,103.00||14.86%|
|3||University of Connecticut||$8,626,506.00||14.74%|
|5||Florida State University||$6,919,449.00||9.30%|
|6||University of North Carolina||$6,859,868.00||9.42%|
|10||North Carolina State University||$4,200,610.00||8.49%|
The top ten schools by percent of total revenue:
|1||University of South Florida||$13,026,289.00||33.24%|
|2||University of Virginia||$12,160,103.00||14.86%|
|3||University of Connecticut||$8,626,506.00||14.74%|
|5||Mississippi State University||$4,000,000.00||10.49%|
|7||University of North Carolina||$6,859,868.00||9.42%|
|8||Florida State University||$6,919,449.00||9.30%|
|9||North Carolina State University||$4,200,610.00||8.49%|
In both cases 9 of the 10 are ACC and Big East schools. SEC programs Auburn and Mississippi State fill out the final slot in each.
As I showed you yesterday, the ACC and Big East average the least fooball revenue out of the AQ conferences. Now you see they lead in reliance on student activity fees. Coincidence? I think not.
This morning we took a look which athletic departments in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 rely on student activity fees. The big recipients, however, are in the ACC and Big East. Before we get to them, however, let’s take a look at the Pac-10:
|Pac 10||Dollar Amount||Percent of Revenue|
|University of California – Los Angeles||$2,750,481.00||4.45%|
|University of California – Berkeley||$2,146,402.00||3.10%|
|Oregon State University||$2,142,702.00||3.85%|
|Washington State University||$1,862,522.00||4.73%|
|University of Oregon||$1,544,344.00||1.26%|
|University of Washington||$0.00||0.00%|
|University of Arizona||$0.00||0.00%|
|Arizona State University||$0.00||0.00%|
|University of Southern California||N/A||N/A|
In terms of average amount of student fees received, the Pac-10 comes in at $1.3 million, which puts it ahead of the Big Ten and Big 12. As we saw in the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12, top football revenue generators in the Pac-10 didn’t rely on student activity fees, namely Washington and Arizona State. In addition, Washington turned a $2.4 million profit (according to Department of Education data) without reliance on these types of fees.
Two of our top five student activity fee recipients come from the ACC, where all schools who reported receive these fees to supplement the athletic department’s budget:
|ACC||Dollar Amount||Percent of Revenue|
|University of Virginia||$12,160,103.00||14.86%|
|Florida State University||$6,919,449.00||9.30%|
|University of North Carolina||$6,859,868.00||9.42%|
|North Carolina State University||$4,200,610.00||8.49%|
|University of Maryland||N/A||N/A|
|Wake Forest University||N/A||N/A|
|University of Miami||N/A||N/A|
University of Virginia ranks second both in amount and percentage of total revenues. If you’ve read the piece on the finances of ACC football programs and overall athletic department finance, you’ll remember UVA led the conference in overall athletic department revenue even though they were below the midpoint for football revenue. That prompted me to call their athletic department and ask a few questions, wherein they revealed the high dollar amount they receive in student activity fees. Upon finding out that conference opponent Georgia Tech only received roughly a third of that amount, I decided to begin work on this piece.
There does seem to be some correlation between the average student activity fee received by schools within a conference and where that conference falls in terms of average football revenue. Before we look at that, however, here’s how the Big East stacks up: Read the rest of this entry
Some interesting links from around the web today:
- Eight of the top ten most highly attended spring football games were in the SEC. No surprise there. Alabama boasted an enormous 92,310 in attendance – that’s more than many teams get in the stands for a reguar season game! Read more here.
- The Big East’s new broadcast deal with ESPN expected to triple their current media rights fees. However, they’re unlikely to see the money the ACC received in their latest contract. Read more here.
- The Fiesta Bowl could learn its fate as early as April 28th when it goes before the NCAA committee on bowl licenses. Read more here.
- Notre Dame released a full report on Declan Sullivan’s death. You can read the entire 145-page report here. It’s about what you would expect. You can skip to page 10 of the PDF if you want the summary of conclusions.
After writing about the football finances of the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Pac-10 and Big 12, it’s time to turn to the Big East. The numbers are drawn from schools’ reports to the U.S. Department of Education on the state of their athletic departments’ finances for July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. See the note at the end for more details on the data.
|West Virginia University||$29,467,612.00|
|University of Pittsburgh||$22,513,336.00|
|University of South Florida||$16,562,391.00|
|University of Louisville||$15,537,276.00|
|University of Cincinnati||$13,325,304.00|
Not surprisingly, money isn’t as big in Big East football as the other BCS conferences. In fact, the biggest earner doesn’t even make as much as the average in the SEC, Big Ten or Big 12:
Big Ten ($40.6m)
Big 12 ($35.4m)
Big East ($18.8)
Despite the Big East’s overall average being the lowest amongst BCS conferences, there are several schools from other conferences making less than the lowest revenue generator in the Big East: University of Maryland ($11.5m), Wake Forest ($10.2m) and Washington State ($12.8m).
We’ll see the same when we take a look at expenses, as a number of schools from other conferences spend less than the most conservative spender in the Big East. The biggest surprise to me when looking at expenditures on football was how far down the list top-earner West Virginia fell. Read the rest of this entry