The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Athletic budget part 3: Show me the money

    While the saying “Money makes the world go ’round” may be a bit of an exaggeration, it is certainly no exaggeration to say that it makes the Mississippi State athletic department run.
    Mississippi State, along with the other schools of the Southeastern Conference, receives much of their money to operate the department from the SEC itself.
    The SEC distributed a record $108.8 million in the revenue sharing plan for the 2003-2004 fiscal year among the 12 SEC schools. That means that all of the schools that participated in the revenue sharing plan received $9.06 million.
    However, not all of the schools received all of the money. According to SEC Associate Commissioner Charles Bloom, schools that are on probation at the time and cannot participate in a football bowl game do not get the revenue money the conference received from the bowl games.
    That means that Alabama and Kentucky cost themselves $2.7 million last year. It also means that Mississippi State will be short $2.7 million when the SEC distributes money next year.
    “The revenue money goes into an account and after five years, if the school is not still on probation, they can collect half of that money,” Bloom said. “The rest of the money gets spread out throughout the conference. It’s a little incentive for schools to stay off of probation.”
    The $108.8 million is the most the SEC has ever distributed among its schools. The most money the conference had distributed prior to this year was in 2003 when it distributed $101.9 million.
    The money comes from several different sources. According to a press release the conference put out after the spring meetings, the $108 million was derived from $44.5 million from football television, $21.0 million from bowls, $12.5 million from the SEC Football Championship, $11.3 million from basketball television, $3.3 from the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, and $16.2 from NCAA Championships.
    Most of the money comes from the SEC television contracts for football television. The SEC has contracts with CBS, ESPN and Jefferson Pilot Sports. While the conference does not release the exact figures on how much the television contracts are, Bloom did say that the most expensive TV contract is with CBS, followed by ESPN and JP Sports.
    After the money is split equally among the schools, there is a possibility for schools to have more money piled on top of it.
    According to Bloom, the more games a school plays on television, the more money it receives. If a school appears on television in a non-conference game at home, the school receives $120,000. If it is away, it receives $100,000. If a school plays a conference game at home, it receives $40,000. If a school moves a game to a day of the week other than Saturday, it receives $150,000.
    For example, Mississippi State received $100,000 for its game against Tulane, which was televised on ESPN2, and $40,000 for the game against Florida, which was televised by JP Sports.
    “We give the school more money for non-conference games to encourage them to schedule games against good non-conference teams,” said Bloom.
    A school also gets more money if it plays in a bowl game.
    The bowl games operate on different money levels. The first level is the bowl games that pay less than $1.5 million. The Independence Bowl would be an example of this kind of bowl.
    The participating schools receive $800,000 and the rest of the money is split among the conference 13 ways, according to Bloom.
    The second level is the bowls that pay between $1.5 and $3.9 million. An example is the Outback Bowl.
    The school keeps $1 million and the rest is split among the conference 13 ways. The same goes for a bowl such as the Capital One Bowl which pays between $4.0 and $5.9 million. The school keeps $1.2 million and the rest is once again split 13 ways in the conference. The final level of bowls is the BCS bowls, which pay out over $6 million. The school keeps $1.7 million and the conference gets the rest to split 13 ways.
    The SEC Football Championship game is another huge way that the SEC gets its money.
    The SEC Championship game is sold separately than the SEC’s regular season TV contract. This allows television networks to bid huge amounts of money in trying to land the game and all its advertising dollars.
    The game is currently showed on CBS, who pays the SEC the contract money and then sells advertisements themselves.
    “We can sell out the game every year and the money amount is increased every year,” Bloom said.
    Bloom said that once the conference hands out the money to the schools, it is the school’s responsibility to distribute it.
    “It is up to the schools to divert the revenue among all the sports in order for them to be successful,” Bloom said.
    On the opposite end of the spectrum from the affluent SEC are the smaller conferences such as Conference USA.
    According to C-USA financial director Brad Stricklin, the conference only doled out $27.9 million to its schools.
    C-USA is one of the conferences shut out of the BCS, so there is no way they can get the most expensive bowl money from the BSC bowls.
    Actually, C-USA has no bowl tie ins with bowls that even pay out the second most money. The conference champion is tied in to the Liberty Bowl, which pays only $1.3 million per team.
    According to Stricklin, C-USA only received $5.6 million in bowl money compared to $21 million that the SEC received.
    Another problem for C-USA is television. C-USA has only one television contract, with ESPN, so it doesn’t get nearly the amount of TV money as the SEC, receiving only $7.5 million.
    The bonus money for schools playing on television is also much less. A school that plays on television gets only $25,000 for a nationally televised game and $12,500 for a regionally televised game.
    Since the schools in the conference have basically no shot to win a national championship, they are not on television as much and the contract is not worth as much.
    There also aren’t enough teams in the conference to hold a football championship game so the conference gets no money from that. However, that will change next year.
    “Next year we will be able to play a championship game (with conference realignment) although we’re still crunching numbers on how much it will make,” Stricklin said.
    The main root of the problem of monetary discrepancy is the BCS. There are six conferences that are members of the BCS, which tries to determine a national champion by different formulas involving the human and computer polls.
    The main problem is that while the six BCS conferences are guaranteed to have at least one team in one of the four BCS bowls to rake in all of the millions that the BCS pays out, the non-BCS conferences such as Conference USA receive none of that money.
    It is basically the rich get richer and the poor get poorer kind of mentality. There has been a lawsuit proposed by Tulane University president Scott Cowen against the BCS for what he calls an unfair system.
    “I can’t comment on that,” said Stricklin. “I couldn’t begin to tell you all about it. I’ll just say that we don’t get any of the BCS money we could get.”

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    Athletic budget part 3: Show me the money