Earlier this fall, the TV rights for the college football playoff in 2014 was secured in a negotiation with ESPN reportedly for $470 million annually and $5.64 billion for the full length of the 12-year deal. The current contract with ESPN for the Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta bowls as well as the BCS national championship is worth about $125 million annually.
"Because of college football's widespread popularity and the incredible passion of its fans, few events are more meaningful than these games," ESPN President John Skipper said (SI.com).
I am actually surprised that the SEC does not generate more TV money from their success and fan following in college football. The SEC only tops the Big 12 for national television revenue of the top five conferences listed below.
College football is the second most popular sport in the United States, tied with baseball, which is a signal that there is even more room to bring in the dollars. Everything involving money in college football from coaches' pay to television deals have skyrocketed in recent years and it does not look to go down. Even contract buyouts involving coaching changes may cost colleges around $50 million this season alone (USA Today). I have no problem with large coaches' salaries or athletic facility upgrades as long as funds do not come from sources like student funding to pay for football or other sports.
A major issue is that of 120 athletic departments in the FBS, only 19 percent reported a profit in 2011 and per-student funding has significantly dropped over the last 21 years, 79.1 percent in 1980 to 56.7 percent in 2011 (WSJ). However, college football cannot necessarily be blamed for the inability of college sports to profit since most schools with top notch football programs report a profit in athletics.
According to the Wall Street Journal,
"At Louisiana State University, where football is profitable and conference-rights revenue has surged, officials recently agreed to transfer $7.2 million a year from sports to academic programs hurt by budget cuts."
The influx of money into college football should not necessarily be viewed as a bad thing or another reason for student-athletes to be paid. As long as the money is allocated properly, college football can actually help universities in academics and other sports programs that lack funds. But programs that overspend or lack the ability to sustain the revenue rise in comparison to others may have an issue with keeping up and ultimately could be detrimental to the either the academics at the school or the athletic programs. Otherwise, it is okay to raise and spend money, just do it within the means of the budget.
Annual revenue of national TV-rights deals for five major collegiate conferences
Current Deal, Previous Deal
1. Pac-12 $350 million, $57 million
2. Big Ten, $271 million, $62 million
3. ACC, $245 million, $70 million
4. SEC, $205 million, $57 million
5. Big 12, $192 million, $80 million
$25.5 billion in rights fees into college conferences and their member schools over the next 15 years.
Source: SportsBusiness Journal Factbook & SNL Kagan as reported by the Wall Street Journal in print.
Top four favorite sports in America
1. Pro Football 36%
2. College Football 13%
2. Baseball 13%
4. Auto Racing 8%
Bowl payouts for 2011-12 season
Highest per conference: SEC, $30,826,027
Lowest per conference: Mountain West, $1,066,190
BCS Bowls: $192,004,432
Non-BCS Bowls: $98,512,458
Net-revenue from bowl payouts: $179,896,463
Source: Football Bowl Association Media Guide 2012-13