2011-12 bowl payout

by Prez Ro, Matteson, IL

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Recently published an article which investigated the myth that college athletic departments reap significant profits when their football teams are invited to high-profile bowl games, particularly Bowl Championship Series games. The paper notes that most BCS-affiliated conferences (Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Pacific 10, Southeastern) pool the payouts among its members by staggering the allotment to cover expenses for bowl-bound schools while splitting the remainder of the revenue evenly to every member.

The paper presented an example from the Big East, in which both the University of Cincinnati (UC) and the University of Pittsburgh competed last week for the conference championship and the right to play in the BCS-affiliated Sugar Bowl, with UC winning the game, 45-44. UC will receive only $2.2 million of its $18 million payout for appearing in the Sugar Bowl. The University of Pittsburgh will receive $1.09 million to participate in the Meinecke Car Care Bowl. Each team will also receive an eight-way cut of the conference share.

"In no conference is there any game where the winner makes $18 million and the loser makes $1 million. That's a bad business model," Big East associate commissioner Nick Carparelli said. "The bowl payout to conferences is really funny money. When you go to bowl games, you're going to more expensive destinations with a bigger travel party. The net result isn't a million dollars. It might even be zero."

On the other hand, while college athletic departments may not expect to profit from bowl games, administrators do considered the potential of losing revenue. "None of us view the expense money for going to a bowl game as profit, but we do figure it in our budget," University of Pittsburgh athletic director Steve Pederson said. "The finances of all these games are tight, so there's no great windfall going to any one school. The way we're allocated expense money, you hope you cover your expenses."


According to West Virginia University senior associate athletic director Russ Sharp, his institution lost over $1 million when agreeing to participate in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. Sharp said that the Big East's payout to West Virginia for its trip to the 2008 Fiesta Bowl was $2,425,600, but the school's expenses totaled $3,495,000 - for losses of $1,069,400. Taking the 400-member band alone cost West Virginia nearly $700,000, and the school had to swallow some of its 17,500 ticket obligation. "We lost money on that trip," Sharp said. "It was an expensive deal."

"It's a constant, educational reminder to our fan base that, 'here are the financial realities,'" Pennsylvania State University athletic director Tim Curley said. "You've got to manage it because you don't want to lose money on these trips. We try to be respectful of what it realistically costs to go on these bowl trips."

Click here for all of the 2011-12 bowl results:
    W-L GAMES  
  C-USA 4-1 5  
  MAC 4-1 5  
  BIG 12 6-2 8  
  SEC 6-3 9  
  BIG East 3-2 5  
  Independents 1-1 2  
  BIG 10 4-6 10  
  Mountain West 2-3 5  
  Sun Belt 1-2 3  
  PAC 12 2-5 7  
  ACC 2-6 8  
  WAC 0-3 3  

NOTE: Ohio State can get bowl money despite 2012 ban... ~
click here

The 2011-2012 conference bowl payouts reflect the "pecking order" of the AQ conferences, with the SEC and BIG 10 ranked #1 and #2 in gross revenues from bowl games. Beyond that, there are discrepancies. The ACC ranks #3 in gross bowl payouts, but #5 in per-school payouts while the Big East ranks dead last in the gross categories (and non-BCS per school payout) but is #4 in overall per-school payout, thanks to having to split the money just 8 ways. The Big 12 is also a robust #2 in both per-school categories, thanks to having just 10 mouths to feed.

This highlights a danger for the New Big East: with 4 more net mouths to feed, per school payout is likely to plunge unless new bowls can be added.

  Conference Total Payout (per-school payout in parentheses) non-BCS bowl payout
  SEC $42.895m ($3.57m) $20.895 ($1.74m)
  BIG 10 $40.5375 ($3.38m) $18.5375 ($1.54m)
  ACC $34.98m ($2.92m) $12.98m ($1.08m)
  BIG 12 $34.45m ($3.445m) $16.95m ($1.695m)
  PAC 12 $31.2625m ($2.69m) $9.2625m ($.77m)
  BIG East $23.45m ($2.93m) $5.95m ($.74m)

Here is even further the breakdown:
Orange Bowl (Clemson): $17.5 million
Sugar Bowl (VT): $4.5 million
Chik-Fil-A (UVA): $3.9675 million
Champs Sports Bowl (FSU): $2.325 million
Sun Bowl (GT): $2 million
Music City Bowl (WF): $1.8375 million
Belk Bowl (NCST): $1.7 million
Independence Bowl (UNC): $1.15 million

Military Bowl: Unfulfilled, loses out on $862,500
Big East:
Orange Bowl (West Virginia): $17.5 million
Pinstripe Bowl (Rutgers): $1.8 million
Liberty Bowl (Cincy): $1.7 million
Belk Bowl (UofL): $1.7 million
BBVA Compass (Pitt): $750,000

Beef 'O Brady's Bowl: Unfulfilled, loses out on $500,000
Champs Sports Bowl: Filled by Notre Dame, loses out on $2.325m
Fiesta Bowl (OKS): $17.5 million
Cotton Bowl (KSU): $3.625 million
Insight Bowl (OK): $3.35 million
Alamo Bowl (Baylor): $3.175 million
Meineke Bowl (Texas AM): $1.7 million
Independence Bowl (Missouri): $1.15 million
Holiday Bowl (Texas): $2.15 million
Pinstripe (Iowa ST): $1.8 million
Big 10:
Rose Bowl (Wisc): $17.5 million
Cap One Bowl (UNL): $4.6 million
Sugar Bowl (Michigan): $4.5 million
Outback Bowl (MSU): $3.5 million
Insight Bowl (Iowa): $3.35 million
Gator Bowl (OSU): $2.7 million
Meineke Bowl (NW): $1.7 million
Ticket City (PSU): $1.1 million
Little Caesar's Bowl (Purdue): $750,000
Kraft Fight Hunger (ILL): $837,500
Rose Bowl (Oregon): $17.5 million
Fiesta Bowl (Stanford): $4.5 million
Alamo Bowl (Washington): $3.175 million
Sun Bowl (Utah): $2 million
Las Vegas Bowl (ASU): $1.1 million
Holiday Bowl (Cal): $2.15 million
Kraft Fight Hunger (UCLA): $837,500

New Mexico: unfulfilled, misses out on $750,000
BCS Title Game (LSU): $17.5 million
Cap One Bowl (USC): $4.6 million
BCS Title Game (Alabama): $4.5 million
Cotton Bowl (ARK): $3.625 million
Outback Bowl (UGA): $3.5 million
Chik-Fil-A (Auburn): $2.9325 million
Gator Bowl (UF): $2.7 million
Music City Bowl (MSS): $1.8375 million
Liberty Bowl (Vandy): $1.7 million

BBVA Compass: Unfulfilled, loses out on $900,000

Now ask yourself... how much of that really goes to the students that actually earned them money?

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