The Power Five college sports conferences had more than $ 2.9 billion in combined revenue in their 2019 fiscal years, the new federal conference tax records show.
The Big Ten reported more than $ 780 million in revenue, most of any conference, and its return credits recently retired Commissioner Jim Delany with almost $ 10.3 million in total compensation for the 2018 calendar year.
The returns, four of which were provided this week in response to requests from USA TODAY Sports, serve as yet another reminder of the financial landscape in which major sports ‘response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight for athletes’ names, image and likeness rights are being enforced.
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According to the new documents, covering the years ended June 30:
►The Big Ten earned $ 781.5 million, resulting in payments of around $ 55.6 million for each of the 12 oldest members of the 14-team conference. Maryland and Rutgers received smaller amounts of revenue share, but both schools also received conference loans against future revenue share.
►The Big 12, with 10 teams, reported $ 439 million and payments ranging from $ 38.2 million to $ 42 million.
►The Atlantic Coast registered US $ 455.4 million (payments of US $ 27.6 million to US $ 34 million in 14 schools, plus US $ 6.8 million to Notre Dame).
►Pac-12 registered US $ 530.4 million (payments of approximately US $ 32.2 million per school). This figure does not take into account the equity value of the Pac-12 networks, the conference’s wholly owned television and video content provider, whose expenses help to result in less money being transferred to member schools than other conferences.
Former Ohio State Buckeyes defender, Chase Young (2), grabs the shirt of Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Jack Coan (17) during the 2019 Big Ten Championship. (Photo: Aaron Doster, USA TODAY Sports)
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott received $ 5.4 million in full compensation for the 2018 calendar year, Big Bowl’s Bob Bowlsby, just over $ 4 million, and ACC’s John Swofford, US $ 3.8 million. (Under IRS rules, a nonprofit organization must report its income and expense data based on its fiscal year, but it must report compensation data based on the calendar year completed during the fiscal year.)
Bowlsby – whose base salary was $ 2.5 million in 2018 – is receiving a 20% reduction in salary “in the near future,” according to an email from conference spokesman Bob Burda.
Scott, who had $ 2.95 million in base salary in 2018, is receiving a 12% cut in base salary for fiscal year 2021, said spokesman Andrew Walker. The ACC refused to address Swofford’s current compensation.
In January, the Southeast Conference reported $ 720.6 million in fiscal year 2019, with an average distribution per school of nearly $ 45.3 million for the 13 schools that received total shares. Mississippi did not get a full participation because its football team was banned from the game in the postseason. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey received nearly $ 2.6 million in total compensation.
The total aggregate revenue from the five conferences represents an increase of just over 6% compared to the total for fiscal year 2018. Adjusting for inflation, the combined annual revenues of the Power Five increased by more than $ 1.2 billion in last five years.
The Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and Pac-12 generally filed and released their tax records in May, but because of the pandemic, the IRS has given nonprofits more time this year. These four conferences have just completed their 2020 fiscal years – the SEC closes on August 31 – and its spokesmen said they anticipate that these revenue figures will not be affected by the pandemic. ACC is expected to see a dramatic increase in 2020, which was the ACC network’s first year of revenue.
The prospects for 2021 are uncertain and highly dependent on what happens with the football season. Television contracts provide most of their revenues to conferences, and Power Five TV deals receive about 80% of their value from football, according to AJ Maestas, CEO of Navigate, a Chicago company specializing in university sports rights and professional assessments.
Any game that is not played will likely result in lost revenue, said Maestas, with the value per game, depending on which network has rights. Any lost football game could cost a $ 2 million to $ 5 million conference, Maestas said.
Delany left the Big Ten on January 1, after just over 30 years as a commissioner. In July 2015, he became fully qualified to receive more than $ 20 million in future bonus payments and started receiving these amounts in 2017. The new documents, however, show that 2018 was the first time he received a full year of payments, according to Julie Suderman, Big Ten’s chief financial officer.
Delany’s base salary for the year was about $ 2.4 million. He also received nearly $ 3 million that was classified in the return as bonus compensation and, according to Suderman, was related to future bonus payments. The return said that Delany accumulated, but had not yet been paid, another $ 2.8 million that were described in the return as deferred compensation, but are also part of future bonus payments.
In addition, Delany’s total includes almost $ 1.8 million that were reported as deferred compensation on returns from previous years, but were not actually paid until 2018. That money, said Suderman, was linked to a contract termination payment. which started being reported to Delany in 2011. She refused to say how much had been reported for a given year.
In total, this means that Delany’s net non-duplication compensation for the year was around $ 8.5 million – well above the $ 5.5 million he received in 2017 and which were the most paid to a commissioner college conference in one year.