Big 12 reports $365M revenue, increases for 12th year in row
IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Big 12 Conference had another record revenue year, and the money is expected to keep increasing in the near future.
In wrapping up its spring meetings Friday, the league announced revenue of nearly $365 million for the 2017-18 academic year. That is the 12th consecutive increase for the league.
“We take a look projecting out in the future, we have a very healthy revenue picture, but more importantly we have very healthy institutions working very hard to be together,” said West Virginia President Gordon Gee, chairman of the league’s board of directors.
For each of the league’s 10 schools, that is an average of about $36.5 million for 2017-18. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said there are some variances — a gap of about $2.5 million between the top and bottom of the league based on member participation subsidies.
That average is an increase from last year when the league generated about $348 million, or about $34.8 million per school. And it could increase into the range of $40 million per school next year.
“We’re very competitive and we’re 10 teams,” Gee said. “I think the advantage of the Big 12 teams is we’re only 10 teams. We’re agile. Sometimes it’s difficult to get 14 teams or 12 teams or people with different views. I know when I was the chairman of the Southeastern Conference, which I was for several years when I was at Vanderbilt, we would all agree on something and then as soon as we left, we’d disagree.
“I think there’s a sense of a solidity about where we are right now, which is what I like the most.”
The 14-team SEC still leads the way with an average distribution of about $41 million per school, with the Big Ten reportedly at $38.5 million per school. But the Big 12 is ahead of the Pac-12, with distributable revenue of about $31 million per school, and the ACC, whose 14 football schools got between $25.3 million and $30.7 million.
Revenue generated from eight Big 12 football teams going to bowl games, including Oklahoma making the College Football Playoff, and the return of the Big 12 football championship game help offset the loss of about $40 million revenue without a Sugar Bowl appearance. The Big 12 and SEC are matched up in the Sugar Bowl when that game isn’t a national semifinal game like it was last season.
Bowlsby said the league’s first football championship game in seven years, played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was worth about $30 million.
The Big 12 also had seven men’s basketball teams make the NCAA Tournament, with Kansas going to the Final Four.
Third-tier broadcast rights, like what Texas gets from ESPN for the Longhorn Network, aren’t included in the Big 12 revenue numbers, which Bowlsby said is different from the figures from the other Power Five Conferences.
“In the case of the University of Texas, as an example, I don’t believe there’s anybody in college athletics that’s deriving more from their media ventures than Texas is, and that includes all of the other leagues,” Bowlsby said. “That varies greatly in our conference from $1 million or so at some places to something approaching $20 million at UT.”
The Big 12 is still withholding 25 percent of Baylor’s revenue in escrow as the league verifies that the university is fully implementing 105 recommendations for reforming its Title IX process after a campus sexual assault scandal broke two years ago. That could be about $9 million this year.
“This wasn’t about punishment, it was about all of us together working on a progress for one institution that will be helpful to all of us,” Gee said. “They have been very cooperative, and obviously we feel very strongly that Baylor is a very fine and committed member of our conference and they have done a great deal in terms of governance and structure.”