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College Conference Disparity Shows Broken System

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Copyright 2017 The Salt Lake Tribune
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The Salt Lake Tribune

 

If you've paid any attention to college sports whatsoever, you know that there's a vast disparity between the television revenue brought in by schools in the Power Five conferences and what the Group of Five members get.

But here's a look at a few numbers that emphasize the point. Here's the estimated TV revenue (on average) for each member of a Group of Five conferences for the 2016-17 school year:

American Athletic Conference $2 million

Mountain West Conference $1.7 million

Mid-American Conference $670,000

Conference USA $200,000

Sunbelt Conference $100,000

Alabama football coach Nick Saban will make $11.125 million in salary this season. That's 92 percent of the combined TV revenue for the Sunbelt, C-USA and MAC.

According to documents the Big Ten released to USA Today, commissioner Jim Delany is receiving $20 million in bonuses (over a number of years) on top of his $2.4 million salary (as of 2015).

Delany's bonuses are more than the total TV revenue for each Group of Five conference except the AAC, and they're 91 percent to that league's total. Delany's bonuses are 40 percent more than what the Sunbelt, C-USA and MAC combined make from TV in a year.

I'm not saying Saban doesn't deserve it. He did win four national championships from 2009 to 2015. And Delany has doubled the Big Ten's total revenue (including, but not restricted to, TV money) since 2010 -- up to $483.4 million and rising.

The point is that the gulf between the Power Five and the Group of Five is almost unimaginably wide. It's a miracle if an AAC, MWC, MAC, C-USA or Sunbelt team ever beats a member of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC or Pac-12.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com

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May 31, 2017
 
 
 

 

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