SEC Schools receive over $40 Million from league in 2016, but is it really helping athletic performance?


The entire realignment era from 2010 to mid 2016 was driven by one thing – money. Where can my program be financially secure? This past week the SEC the released that they distributed a whopping over $40 million per school as reported by CBSSportsline. Look at the revenue increases per year in the SEC. Frankly it’s incredible. All we heard during the realignment era, was how revenue gaps would make it impossible for less well funded conferences to compete.

SEC revenue over the years
Year Total Revenue Avg. Payout to Schools
2015-16 $639.0 million $40.4 million
2014-15 $527.4 million $32.7 million
2013-14 $325.9 million $21.0 million
2012-13 $314.5 million $20.8 million
2011-12 $271.8 million $20.4 million
2010-11 $261.1 million $19.5 million
2009-10 $244.4 million $18.3 million
2008-09 $148.0 million $13.1 million
2007-08 $161.6 million $11.3 million
2006-07 $149.2 million $11.0 million

Back in the early 2010s we learned more about Television contracts and third-tier year rights than we cared to know. Now over 5 years later, we have enough time to have at least some determination whether all this money the SEC and Big 10  are printing would create the power 2. The answer so far appears not. In the case of the SEC 2016 was the conference’s worst football season in over a decade. For the first time in over 10 years, the SEC was not the country’s best football conference. That title belonged to the ACC.

The Big 10 went 3-7 in bowl games. In some ways SEC football has gotten worse with the more money they have made. After winning 7 straight football national titles, the conference has won just 1 in the last 4 years. Alabama has left the rest of the conference in football ruins, as they are singularly dominanting in a way that we haven’t seen since Florida State lorded over the ACC in the 1990s.

Regarding SEC basketball, the conference currently ranked 5th in the conference RPI, and is looking at 3 maybe 4 bids which is a low number for a 14 team league. Kentucky remains the only SEC team capable of reaching the final 4 since Billy Donovan left Florida.

Look at the recent National Title winners in Men’s Basketball – Villanova, women’s basketball – UCONN, men’s baseball – Coastal Carolina all reign from under-funded non power 5 schools. Even the National Title winner in football Clemson ranked 39th in total athletic revenue.   The Big 10 since their conference network began in 2007 has exactly 1 national title in any of the 4 major sports, while the ACC has 6.

Now don’t get me wrong, money matters – it absolutely  does. From an ACC perspective, that we cover here had the conference not worked to get the future revenue generator of the ACC Channel or found ways to renegotiate their TV deal, the conference may have had an unstable future. You need money to pay for coaches, and enhance facilities, but did it’s effect on athletic success get over blown?

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