Odds & Ends of BCS Game (and Conference) Payouts

Posted on Dec 10 2013 - 10:54am by Ethan Moore

Football Team Photo

Photo – rodingo.com

With Louisville joining the ACC effective July 1, 2014, UofL football is secure in a power conference for the foreseeable future.  Sports business reporter and guest on LSL Kristi Dosh broke down the payouts between the AQ and non-AQ leagues and the numbers are staggering.  Since the Cards have participated in two BCS Bowls, they have been responsible for earning their league a lot of money during their time in the Big East.  For example, this year alone each BCS bowl will be paying their participants $23.9 million each.  Compare that to the $14.25 million that is split between the five non-AQ leagues and you quickly see the growing disparity in the haves and have nots in college football.

Another little-known fact is that BCS bowl payouts are based upon your conference affiliation, not the BCS bowl game you’re selected to play. The nine conferences competing at the Football Bowl Subdivision level are divided into two groups: automatic-qualifiers and non-automatic qualifiers. The AQ conferences include the ACC, American Athletic Conference, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. The non-AQ conferences include Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt.

In what is sure to make you shake your head, Notre Dame stands to receive just under $2 million from the BCS (plus their bowl payout) even though they aren’t playing in a BCS game.  Other independents Army, BYU, and Navy will receieve $100,000 plus their bowl revenue.

The College Football Playoff begins in the fall of 2014 and the financial windfall will be even bigger with the the five power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, & Pac-12) taking in an average of $91 million per league annually.

Don’t expect much to change next year when the BCS ends and the College Football Playoff begins. Although there will be more money to go around, thanks to a 12-year contract with ESPN that averages $470 million annually (compared to the $155 million per year the BCS currently receives), the so-called “power conferences” will still receive the lion’s share of the revenue.

Media reports have differed as to the exact formula the College Football Playoff will use to distribute revenue, but they all agree the ACC, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC will benefit the most. ESPN reported $345 million per year would be split 75% to those conferences, with 25% being divided by the American Athletic Conference (which is moving “down” out of the power conferences next season thanks to conference realignment), Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.

Other news outlets reported slightly different formulas from their respective sources. A USA Today report had 71.5% going to the power conferences, while an AP report had it at 85%.

The College Football Playoff says the formula hasn’t been completed yet, but everyone seems to agree that while there will be more money for everyone, the divide between the haves and have-nots will continue to grow financially.

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