The advent of conference networks and new television rights deals have led to skyrocketing revenues for athletic programs and universities this decade. And those revenue distributions coming to power conference schools keep rising with seemingly no end in sight.
The University of Michigan released their athletic budget this week and within it was the revelation of just how much the school received from their most recent Big Ten conference revenue distribution.
After receiving $36 million in 2017, Michigan received a $51.1 million payout in 2018 from the conference largely thanks to a huge rights deal with ESPN and Fox and the success of the Big Ten Network. The number will increase to $52.1 million for the 2019 fiscal year.
Via the Detroit News:
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel presented the budget at the Michigan Board of Regents meeting Thursday afternoon.
The department projects revenues of nearly $188 million, including a significant boost from the Big Ten financial distributions. Michigan will receive $52.1 million in Big Ten conference disbursements.
The Big Ten’s new television football and basketball agreements last year gave Michigan a big chunk from the conference. Michigan received $51.1 million in conference disbursements, a significant increase from the $36.3 million in 2017. The Big Ten moved to multiple television partners in the new deal with ESPN/ABC and Fox.
To show you how far these conferences have come in such a short period of time and how these numbers are increasing at an astronomical rate, consider that Big Ten teams received just $25 million per school in the 2013 fiscal year. The Big Ten has incredibly been able to double their revenue distribution for schools in just five short years. Yes, double. It’s astounding. And it shows that maybe Jim Delany wasn’t all that crazy in making sure he got BTN on cable systems on the east coast to expand the league’s footprint. Even though Rutgers and Maryland haven’t exactly fit in seamlessly with the likes of Michigan and Ohio State on the field, expansion and realignment has certainly paid off for the conference.
To put that number in further perspective, it far surpasses anything that we’ve seen so far in the conference revenue race to this point. The Big Ten is in a league of their own with the SEC, which managed to lead all conferences in distributing $40 million to schools in 2017. The other power five conferences are further behind and while the coming ACC Network should make that conference a little more competitive on the revenue front, it’ll likely still be far behind the Big Ten.
Just remember though, these same schools receiving tens of millions of dollars just can’t find a way to afford to pay their players. I don’t know of too many Division III programs that are raking in $50 million per year.