The Big 12‘s average payout to its full-sharing members in 2014–15 was $23.3 million, which was $9.4 million less than what SEC schools received from their conference.
The latest Big 12 tax return provided Wednesday to CBS Sports reflects the growing gap between the SEC and Big Ten compared to every other major conference. Not long ago, the SECand Big 12 provided nearly identical payouts to their schools, past tax records show.
In 2012-13, the Big 12 distributed about $20.9 million to full-sharing members compared to the SEC‘s $20.8 million payout. The Big 12 distributed slightly more money in 2013-14 ($21.2million) than the SEC ($21 million). But the first year of the SEC Network and new College Football Playoff deals shows the significant difference between the SEC and Big 12. (The BigTen’s latest financial records won’t be released until the spring.)
While the Big 12 had no teams in the inaugural playoff, the SEC had one that was worth $6 million to the conference. In addition, the SEC put two teams into contracted CFP bowls that provided additional revenue.
Also, the SEC Network started printing millions of dollars for the SEC — a revenue source that the Big 12 as a whole doesn’t have. Individual Big 12 schools make additional money through third-tier media rights that aren’t reflected in the Big 12 tax form. For instance, Texas reportedly received about $15 million from the Longhorn Network, and Kansas got more than$6 million and Kansas State about $4 million from their third-tier rights.
Even when factoring in these rights, most Big 12 schools are seeing a growing gap with SEC schools in revenue. The SEC pools third-tier TV rights together for the SEC Network. ButSEC schools still have their own multi-media rights contracts not factored into their conference payout. For instance, Kentucky gets approximately $14 million per year from JMI Sports, and Alabama receives about $15 to $16 million annually from Learfield Sports.
“We’re going to do everything we can to compete,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said about the growing gap. “That would certainly include financially.”
The Big 12 has been exploring expansion, a football conference championship game and a TV network potential bundled together with the Longhorn Network in an effort to generate more money. But the big question is what schools are available that would substantially increase the league’s television rights value. Oklahoma president David Boren, who is pushing for expansion, told The Oklahoman this week that Big 12 presidents have agreed they need to decide by this summer whether to expand, create a championship game and/or start a network.
The 10-member Big 12 reported its annual revenue was $267.8 million for the most recent fiscal year that ended June 30, 2015. That’s up 19 percent from a year earlier.
Big 12 bowl revenue skyrocketed by 75 percent to $74.5 million in the first year of the playoff and new bowl contracts. The Big 12 and SEC teamed up to create and sell the lucrative “Champions Bowl” to the Sugar Bowl. Television revenue for the Big 12 was up 6 percent to $147.6 million.
Every Big 12 school received approximately $23 million last year except for TCU and West Virginia, which didn’t start collecting a full share until 2015-16. TCU received $20.4 millionand West Virginia took in $20.3 million.
This isn’t the first time there was a big gap in payouts between the Big 12 and SEC. In 2011-12, after Texas A&M and Missouri opted to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, the SEC distributed about $6.1 million more per school than the Big 12. The Big 12 closed the gap but it’s resurfacing again in a major way.
During 2014–15, Bowlsby made approximately $2.6 million in total compensation, slightly up from $2.5 million a year earlier. His compensation was lower than Mike Slive, who made $3.6 million in his final year as SEC commissioner. Tax returns for the other three Power Five commissioners have not been released yet.
Bowlsby’s basic compensation stayed the same at $1.8 million and he again received a $450,000 bonus. The tax return said $167,000 of his total income had been deferred compensation on a prior return. According to the form, Bowlsby received a $500,000 loan for his residence, with $400,000 still owed at the end of the fiscal year.
When asked if he feels guilty about his salary given the financial restraints the NCAA places on players, Bowlsby replied, “I think I’m overpaid and I think there are others in college athletics that are overpaid. But that’s what the market dictates so I’m not going to attempt to turn the market in the other direction.”
Other highly-paid Big 12 officials: deputy commissioner Tim Weiser ($334,892), senior associate commissioner Tim Allen ($229,427), chief financial officer Steve Pace ($228,016), associate commissioner Ed Stewart ($223,996), senior associate commissioner Dru Hancock ($220,158) and associate commissioner John Underwood ($207,200). Football officiating coordinator Walt Anderson continued to make $194,400.
The Big 12 spent $1.4 million on legal services with Polsinelli Shugart in Kansas City, up from about $400,000 a year earlier. Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda said the increase was due to legal defense for NCAA lawsuits in which the Big 12 is a defendant. There have been multiple lawsuits in which current and former players have sought compensation beyond the value of a scholarship.
Eighty-eight percent of the Big 12‘s revenue was distributed to its members, up from 87 percent a year earlier. The Big 12 listed $33.6 million in net assets at the end of the fiscal year, compared to $23.9 million a year earlier. The SEC‘s net assets were up to $66.7 million last August.
Jon Solomon from cbssports.com permission to republish.