As always in the case of the Southeastern Conference and its member schools, the rich annually get richer.
The SEC office on Thursday announced its annual revenue distribution figures for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31. The conference divided $624.2 million between its 14 member schools such as LSU for $44.6 million each, plus an additional $26.8 million in bowl revenue retained by schools that played in bowl games following the 2018 season for $651.0 million total.
That’s up from $627.1 million total in the 2017-18 fiscal year, or $43.1 million per school excluding bowl revenue.
“The revenue distributed through the Southeastern Conference enables our 14 member universities to provide unparalleled support to their student-athletes through superior instruction, training, equipment, academic counseling, medical care, mental health and wellness support and life-skills development,” SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said in a written statement from the league. “It is this sustained conference-wide commitment to the student-athlete experience that makes this conference sound and its impact so meaningful.”
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The SEC money is generated through television agreements, bowl games, the College Football Playoff, the SEC Championship Game, the SEC men’s basketball tournament, NCAA championships and other unspecified supplemental distribution. The $651 million does not include about $7.8 million in NCAA and SEC grants for the 14 member schools. That amount was down slightly from $8.1 million in 2017-18.
Revenue for SEC schools has increased each year since 1980 despite the fact the conference expanded from 10 to 12 members in 1992 by adding Arkansas and South Carolina and from 12 to 14 members in 2012 with Texas A&M and Missouri coming on board.
A major driving factor for SEC revenue distribution continues to be from the SEC Network. Since the network switched on in August 2014, revenue distribution has increased more than 113 percent from $20.9 million for the 2013-14 fiscal year to now.
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Though SEC revenue has only been rising incrementally the past few years since, the financial rewards figure to zoom up staggeringly in the near future.
Reports emerged late last year that the SEC and CBS will let their football TV contract expire after the 2023 season, opening the league up to other TV providers. CBS, which has televised SEC football since 1996, currently pays the conference $55 million per year.
According to multiple reports, Disney has reportedly bid $350-400 million to get the SEC Championship Game and be the exclusive home of SEC football, which ESPN already shares with CBS. Disney is the parent company of both ABC and ESPN, and ESPN produces the SEC Network.
Currently more than 5,400 female and male student-athletes across the SEC receive financial aid, and counting non-scholarship participants, more than 7,800 total student-athletes participate in sports sponsored by SEC institutions, according to the conference.
“In addition to supporting the overall student-athlete experience, revenues generated through SEC athletics can contribute in significant ways to the academic missions of the conference’s 14 universities,” Sankey said. “These distributions provide each university the opportunity to make a positive impact on their respective campuses in ways unique to each institution. Past uses of this revenue on our campuses have included participation in the construction and renovation of academic facilities, support of academic scholarship opportunities, funding of academic programs and direct transfers of funds to support academic budgets.”