Author Archives: Kristi Dosh

A Look Back at Conference Realignment 2004-2005

Conference realignment is nothing new. In 2004 and 2005, 16 schools moved from one FBS conference to another. Earlier this week, I wrote a piece for ESPN detailing how those schools have fared financially (and even academically) since their respective moves. Those who know me know I love Excel spreadsheets, and I had quite a few that we didn’t include in the piece. Below you’ll find a chart for each public school who moved in 2004 and 2005 detailing the growth each school saw in major revenue categories from the year before they moved conferences to the year after. Check out my piece for details on expense growth and overall financial picture for each school.

Virginia Tech

2003-2004 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $12,684,737 $18,979,129 50%
Student Fees $5,782,195 $7,237,091 25%
Guarantees $784,257 $2,551,600 225%
Contributions $8,561,075 $15,849,981 85%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $55,000 $185,000 236%
Direct Institutional Support $408,962 $353,531 -14%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $4,960,919 $12,467,870 151%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $1,907,452 $3,954,669 107%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $503,186 $1,384,437 175%


2004-2005 2010-2011  Growth
Ticket Sales $3,889,980 $8,485,966 118%
Student Fees $0 $0
Guarantees $1,232,500 $871,905 -29%
Contributions $4,636,229 $5,848,897 26%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $5,642,852 $14,708,672 161%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $3,492,095 $7,731,939 121%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $0 $0
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $1,000,000 $1,841,836 84%


2004-2005 2010-2011  Growth
Ticket Sales $12,767,307 $26,467,598 107%
Student Fees $1,633,024 $1,861,502 14%
Guarantees $1,030,000 $1,001,150 -3%
Contributions $11,507,810 $28,224,908 145%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $1,500,000 $2,152,967 44%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $2,430,632 $8,629,513 255%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $1,643,061 $1,180,000 -28%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $2,875,850 $3,527,018 23%

South Florida

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $2,975,011 $5,828,048 96%
Student Fees $9,183,299 $15,231,708 66%
Guarantees $1,058,491 $1,704,000 61%
Contributions $2,675,193 $2,735,003 2%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $95,550
Direct Institutional Support $1,093,589 $1,329,909 22%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $1,426,973 $8,873,398 522%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $400,000 $507,577 27%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $1,042,549 $4,885,785 369%

Central Florida

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,317,224 $5,167,757 292%
Student Fees $11,932,441 $18,818,806 58%
Guarantees $788,430 $663,750 -16%
Contributions $3,357,302 $6,370,570 90%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $1,474,967 $2,424,099 64%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $749,684 $3,826,564 410%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $65,000 $0 -100%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $615,374 $3,684,133 499%


2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,961,713 $3,946,607 101%
Student Fees $3,667,214 $4,287,724 17%
Guarantees $966,967 $1,231,653 27%
Contributions $3,256,311 $3,855,746 18%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $2,430,614 $5,439,689 124%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $1,087,603 $2,911,073 168%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $652,990 $1,231,121 89%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $206,704 $176,079 -15%


2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $3,639,657 $3,308,099 -9%
Student Fees $2,952,176 $4,219,929 43%
Guarantees $430,000 $983,700 129%
Contributions $3,029,606 $3,071,855 1%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $109,307
Direct Institutional Support $4,994,481 $6,424,788 29%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $1,130,878 $3,124,801 176%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $7,828 $337,744 4215%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $1,272,179 $1,415,759 11%


2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $211,352 $1,077,790 410%
Student Fees $1,851,406 $2,317,147 25%
Guarantees $894,552 $1,063,980 19%
Contributions $2,022,954 $2,148,835 6%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $179,000 $381,000 113%
Direct Institutional Support $2,153,302 $2,778,311 29%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $523,352 $2,004,217 283%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $128,042 $50,000 -61%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $717,898 $730,462 2%

Utah State

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,032,946 $1,965,806 90%
Student Fees $1,602,768 $3,798,541 137%
Guarantees $1,430,500 $831,640 -42%
Contributions $985,783 $1,869,811 90%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $140,000
Direct Institutional Support $2,270,523 $9,109,963 301%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $436,950 $2,507,973 474%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $74,000 $0 -100%
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $710,719 $564,983 -21%

New Mexico State

2004-2005 2010-2011 Growth
Ticket Sales $1,029,077 $1,771,334 72%
Student Fees $1,776,389 $2,952,320 66%
Guarantees $861,000 $754,000 -12%
Contributions $1,409,625 $883,239 -37%
Comp and Benefits by Third Party $0 $0
Direct Institutional Support $3,347,148 $9,078,575 171%
NCAA/Conference Distributions $361,505 $2,118,375 486%
Broadcast, TV, Radio, Internet $0 $0
Royalties/Licensing/Ad/Sponsor $711,384 $2,414,076 239%

Keep in mind there are many reasons for fluctuations in revenue, including new stadiums, expansion of stadiums, and sometimes even changes in reporting methods. It’s important to talk to each school before drawing any conclusions about why a specific revenue category has increased or decreased.

Goodbye and Thank You

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.  ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

When I created this site, I told no one about my idea. I kept it to myself, because I thought it might be a ridiculous idea. Just because I enjoyed writing about the finances of college athletics and had received decent hits on my pieces over on Forbes didn’t mean an entire website could be built around the business of college athletics.

Or could it? As it turns out, not only is there infinite material to cover regarding the business of college athletics, but there’s an audience. An audience of passionate fans that fuel my enthusiasm for the subject. Without all of you – well, there is no

And certainly, without you I wouldn’t have news to share. This will be my last post on No, you haven’t caused me to pack up my keyboard and shut the site down with your accusatory emails and tweets. You’ve given me the desire and motivation to make the business of sports my career.

This is my last post, because I am beginning a new job, and essentially a new career path. I am now ESPN’s sports business reporter!

According to my mother, I’ve wanted to be an attorney since I could speak. I’ve always loved sports, but my attempts to make sports part of my practice never panned out. Until I started writing about legal issues in sports. Then with each passing day, I began to devote more and more of myself to studying and analyzing the business of college sports. For the last eighteen months, I’ve awoken every morning with a burning desire to run to the computer and research or write about an issue in sports business. And that’s why it’s time for me to make a change.

Joining ESPN will allow me to devote myself to researching and reporting on sports business full time. It will also give me an unparalleled platform online, in ESPN The Magazine, on television and radio. There are so many possibilities for topics that I’ve had to start a notebook filled with ideas. I’ve never been so ready to get started!

The move is bittersweet only in that I must leave this website behind. Luckily, you all can follow me over to my new blog on, and even continue to frequent this site, which I’ve entrusted to the very capable Alicia Jessop, along with some superb guest writers.

I can’t begin to thank you enough – for visiting this site, for bookmarking it, adding it to Google Reader and subscribing to receive posts by email. Thank you for following me on Twitter and for emailing me both with praise, criticism, challenges and ideas. Every single time I sit down to write, I think of you – my audience. What do you want to know about your team? What don’t you know about the business side of college sports? I hope I’ve delivered some of that for you.

Please don’t be strangers. My email and Twitter remain the same. You can always find links to all my work at, and you can check out my new blog over at ESPN!


Facilities Tour: University of Tulsa

I’ll admit it. I didn’t expect much out of my visit to University of Tulsa. I was thinking urban campus with facilities befitting my image of a non-AQ conference. The image in my head couldn’t have been further from what I experienced on the University of Tulsa campus.

Out of all the campuses I’ve visited, Tulsa is the only one where I could see myself as a student. Perhaps this is because it’s small (just over 3,000 undergraduates and just over 1,100 graduate students) and that along with the architectural theme carried throughout campus reminds me of my undergraduate alma mater, Oglethorpe University. Whatever the reason, I was enchanted by University of Tulsa. Yes, enchanted. I’m making a push to bring “enchanted” back into everyday vocabulary.

I doubt many of you have visited University of Tulsa, or ever will. So, I hope this pictures do it justice. This tour, along with a subsequent tour I took of Western Kentucky University, proved to me that the divide between AQ and non-AQ schools in terms of facilities isn’t nearly as wide as I imagined. In fact, there’s no divide at all between some schools.

This picture below on the left is of dorms. Yes, those are dorms. I’ve lived in apartments not as nice. The only reason I’m including these in the athletic facilities tour is that these particular ones are adjacent to the football stadium and actually house the bathrooms and concession stands for the stadium on the bottom floor. You can’t tell from the picture, but they’re just over to the right of this shot. (Sorry, I never claimed to be a professional photographer.) The picture on the right is the outside facade of the football stadium.






Next up are some shots of the 30,000 capacity football stadium from the inside:






Below are shots of the club seating area and accompanying suite within H.A. Chapman Stadium:






Tulsa has 400 club seats and 20 luxury suites. Club seats cost $300/seat for each season and are purchased for 10-years at a time. Likewise, luxury suites are sold for ten years each at a cost of $30,000. Both club seats and luxury suites currently have a waiting list.

Inside the Case Athletic Complex, located at the northern end zone and pictured above on the left, are locker rooms and an impressive display of Tulsa alumni playing in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry

The Impact of Ranking on Ticket Sales

Michigan Student Section - Taken by Flickr user grgbrwn

What role does a Division I football team’s AP ranking play in the amount of tickets sold for its games and the price of those tickets?

The following depicts the least expensive tickets found for this week’s and next week’s games for teams on the AP Top 25 as of October 2, 2011.

The prices were found using StubHub as of 12 p.m. PST on October 8, 2011.  For this data the number in parenthesis indicates the number of tickets remaining for sale on StubHub.  Prices with a “*” indicate that StubHub data was unavailable and thus, Craigslist was used to obtain data.  The + symbol indicates that the game was played at a neutral location.






1.  LSU versus Florida- $150.00 (30) at Tennessee- $74.00 (1,799)
2. Alabama versus Vanderbilt – $48.00 (52) at Ole Miss – $50.00 (1,687)
3. Oklahoma versus Texas- $150.00*+ at Kansas- $50.00 (314)
4. Wisconsin No game versus Indiana- $60.00 (681)
5. Boise State Played Fresno on 10/7 at Colorado State- $102 (154)
6. Oklahoma State versus Kansas- $20.00* at Texas- $80.00 (1,369)
7.  Stanford versus Colorado- $13.00 (296) at Washington State- $40.00 (67)
8.  Clemson versus Boston College- $75.00* at Maryland- $18.00 (470)
9. Oregon Played Cal on 10/6 versus Arizona State- $52.00 (640)
10. Arkansas versus Auburn- $50.00* No game
11. Texas versus Oklahoma- $150.00*+ versus Oklahoma State- $80.00 (1.369)
12. Michigan at Northwestern – $95.00 (142) at Michigan State- $168.00 (792)
13.  Georgia Tech No game at Virginia- $39.00 (291)
14. Nebraska versus Ohio State- $50.00 (130) No game
15. Auburn at Arkansas- $50.00* versus Florida- $94.00 (1,146)
16. West Virginia versus Connecticut- $17.00* No game
17. Florida at LSU – $150.00 (30) at Auburn- $94.00 (1,146)
18. South Carolina versus Kentucky- $45.00* at Mississippi State- $32.00 (363)
19. Illinois at Indiana- $25.00* versus Ohio State- $31.00 (556)
20. Kansas State versus Missouri- $20.00 (15) at Texas Tech – $16.00 (811)
21.  Virginia Tech versus Miami- $15.00 (256) at Wake Forest- $25.00 (621)
22. Arizona State at Utah- $15.00* at Oregon- $52.00 (640)
23. Florida State at Wake Forest- $15* at Duke – $20.00 (155)
24. Texas A&M at Texas Tech – $20.00 (376) versus Baylor – $98.00 (908)
25.  Baylor versus Iowa State- $10.00* at Texas A&M – $98.00 (908)

The 25th-ranked Baylor had the least expensive ticket price on the list for this week’s games, at $10.00.  The top-ranked LSU had the most expensive ticket price at $150.00 for its game against Florida, which tied pricing for the always popular Red River Rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma.

As for next week, the highest-priced game as of October 8, 2011 was the match-up between in-state rivals Michigan and Michigan State, for which the least expensive tickets were being sold on StubHub for $168.00.

Washington State fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Stanford quarterback phenom Andrew Luck better act fast and buy tickets, as only 67 remained on StubHub as of yesterday afternoon.

The following tidbit should be of interest to Boise State fans:  Tickets for the Broncos’ away game versus Colorado State were next week’s highest priced game for any Top 25 team, priced at $102.00.  It appears that many of the Broncos’ game tickets sell for over $100.00, which is interesting when compared to the ticket prices for teams in larger conferences (say, Texas Tech, Stanford and South Carolina).

Throughout the rest of the football season, visit every Sunday to track how ticket prices fluctuate as teams’ rankings rise and fall and to find out which conference boasts the highest ticket prices.

(Today’s post was written by’s new main contributing writer.  To learn the identity of the site’s new writer, be sure to visit tomorrow!)

Facilities Tour: Texas A&M

When I visited Texas A&M last month I had the pleasure of going on an athletics facilities tour with Kevin Hurley, Associate Athletic Director for Construction and Facilities. Considered collectively, A&M’s facilities are top-notch. The only major improvements needed are to Kyle Field and the football training facilities, and there appear to be plans for that in the near future.

I took plenty of pictures and notes so I could take you on a tour of the facilities as well.

First up was the basketball arena and attached practice facilities.

Here you can see the floor being put down for volleyball. Reed Arena seats 12,500 and has no suites. However, Hurley tells me they could fit 10 if there was a demand for suites. I’ve written previously about how suites can make all the difference in which schools are profiting from basketball and which are not.

Hurley says men’s basketball averages 6,700-7,700 per home game, and women’s basketball averages 3,000-3,200. The numbers drop greatly when games are held while school is out of session. Student attendance keeps the place nearly full when games are played while students are on campus.

Although Reed Arena is not large enough to hold the men’s basketball finals, A&M is hosting the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in March.

This portion of Reed Arena, where competition is held for basketball and volleyball, is owned by a separate entity outside of the school and leased by the athletic department. However, the next stop on our tour, the practice facilities, are owned by the school and are on par with the best I’ve seen in the country.

When you walk into the building that houses the men’s and women’s basketball practice facilities you enter an atrium. To one side you enter the men’s facilities and to the other you enter the women’s facilities. They are mirror images of one another. Each includes a practice court, weight room, training room, locker room, and a lounge.

Above is the weight room on the men’s side. Below is the lounge for the player’s and a meeting room.

Now comes the most impressive locker I’ve seen at any Division I school. Each men’s and women’s basketball player has a locker like the one pictured below – complete with computer, desk and chair.

Below are pictures of the empty locker room and the training room on the men’s side.

Next up was the women’s soccer field…

Although I haven’t visited all of the softball stadiums in the SEC, I’m told A&M’s (seen below) will fall near the bottom of the pile, while baseball (not pictured because it’s undergoing massive renovations) will be one of the top two or three.

Swim and dive facilities are a part of the student recreation center and are rented by the athletic department for practicies and meets.

There are only a handful of indoor tracks on college campuses around the nation, and I’m told by many from within and outside the school that Texas A&M’s indoor track facility is the very best.

The facility that is probably next in line for a facelift is Texas A&M’s weight room for football, located just behind the south end zone. Should the rumored plans to add seating in the south end zone come to fruition, I don’t see how this building could remain intact in its current location. I’m guessing that means a new one will be constructed. There’s nothing wrong with the current facility, it just hasn’t been updated as recently as the other athletic facilities.

There’s also a nice lounge for the football players…

The football locker room is as nice as any I’ve seen, but I still think the basketball players have the best lockers.

At each school I’ve visited, I always ask about capital campaigns for athletics. At A&M they’ve gone to project-based capital campaigns instead of big generic athletics campaigns. They’ve found they often have donors who are interested in a particular sport. For example, right now they have a potential donor who might be interested in adding clay courts to the tennis complex. No other Division I school has clay tennis courts. While they wouldn’t be used in competition, it could be used as a recruiting tool to lure tennis players with pro aspirations.

The other thing I noticed at A&M that you don’t see at every school is separate weight rooms and training facilities for nearly every sport. There are a few sports grouped together, like basketball and volleyball, but there are many small weight rooms and training rooms instead of one big one of each that all athletes have to share. Not every school has gone to this model. Some believe it’s best not to segregate the athletes from one another. However, if you have the money, this setup sure was nice.

Overall, I was impressed with many of A&M’s facilities. The basketball practice gyms and accompanying weight rooms, training rooms and locker rooms were the best I’ve seen anywhere and are comparable to the more highly publicized facilities at Louisville (which I’ll detail in a later post).

Plenty of building and renovation has taken place during Bill Byrne’s tenure at Texas A&M, so expect to see more upgrades in the future.

Thank you to Athletic Director Bill Byrne and Associate Athletic Director Kevin Hurley for letting me take a peek inside A&M’s facilities!

Big East vs. Big 12: Which is more stable?

Although I was wrong about plenty of things when I made my four 16-team super conference lists months ago, I was right about one thing: the Big East was indeed an innocent bystander who was injured in the cross-fire.

My prediction was that when conferences couldn’t find what they needed or wanted in the Big 12, they’d turn to the next weakest prey, the Big East. The ACC wasn’t willing to stretch its geographical reach westward to grab a Big 12 member or two, so they swiped Pitt and Syracuse from the Big East.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 has lost Texas A&M and could be on the verge of losing Missouri. Rumor has it the Big 12 might be looking to take Louisville from the Big East. But should Louisville make the move? If stability is a motivating factor, which conference is really more stable?

I think it’s the Big East, and here’s why.

The money will likely be just as good in the Big East. Currently, the Big East has two contracts with ESPN (one for men’s and women’s basketball through the 2011-2012 school year and one for football through the 2012-2013 school year) and one with CBS for men’s and women’s basketball through 2012-2013.

Earlier this year the Big East turned down a deal estimated to be worth up to $130 million a year from ESPN. It was unclear if this offer was only for first-tier rights or if it included second-tier rights similar to the deal ESPN made the ACC. CBS has been a television partner with Big East basketball since the 1981-1982 season, so it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t continue the relationship.

Determining how much of the $130 million each member would receive is difficult because not all members participate in football. Either ESPN would continue to produce two contracts, one that includes only football rights, or the Big East would vote on a way to fairly split the proceeds of a combined contract. Either way, it would be a sizeable increase in tv revenue for each member of the conference.

The Big 12 is getting $150 million a year from its combined first and second-tier rights deals with ESPN and FOX and will likely split equally between ten members.

Sure, the Big East has lost Pitt and Syracuse before having secured a new tv deal, but they’re not irreplaceable. Whether the Big East looks to Navy and Air Force or perhaps some combination of UCF, ECU or Houston, there’s still plenty of money to be made. In fact, the Big East is likely to benefit from NBC/Comcast’s emerging presence. It’s believed a bid from NBC/Comcast was the catalyst for ESPN and FOX teaming up together on the blockbuster Pac-12 deal. NBC/Comcast has been said by many to have overpaid for the Olympics and will likely be willing to overpay for the Big East to get a foothold in college football. A bidding war between NBC/Comcast and ESPN, who won’t want to lose a conference from its stable, could benefit the Big East in the end.

And the Big East has basketball. Really good basketball. The Big East was the only AQ football conference to make more money from March Madness than the BCS for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. Expect that to drive new first and second-tier television rights contracts.

So, if there’s just as much money to be made in the Big East and it maintains its AQ status in football (and there’s no reason to believe it won’t), then why would a school like Louisville consider joining the Big 12?

Good question.

Two years in a row we’ve watched the Big 12 wrap duct tape around the conference to hold it together. They must be trying to save some dough and going with the off-brand, because it doesn’t seem to be holding well. First Colorado and Nebraska escaped, and now A&M has made a move. The glue is coming undone on Missouri’s side, and no one is sure if it will hold.

The Big 12 has its shiny new tv deal, but that’s about all it has going for it these days. That and the fact that it has Texas, which has turned out to be both a benefit and a burden. We all know Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would have left for the Pac-12 given the chance. Texas and Texas Tech weren’t far behind them. It might not have happened this year, but who’s to say one or more of them won’t find a way to make it work in another conference next year? Or the year after? Add in the perceived power of Texas and the Longhorn Network, and there are plenty of reasons to think twice before joining the Big 12.

After speaking with fans during my visit to Louisville this weekend, I believe the reason they want to leave has more to do with their relationship with UK than their desire to be proud Big 12 members. Their UK colleagues and relatives can say at least UK lost to football powerhouses like Alabama or Florida. A move to the Big 12 would mean Louisville fans could say they lost to Texas or Oklahoma rather than USF or Cincinnati.

That’s not enough reason to make the move.

While the door in the Big East may be revolving, they haven’t had to consider closing down. The strong basketball tradition and the stability of the non-football members of the conference will allow the Big East to stick around for the long haul. The same simply cannot be said for the Big 12. Oklahoma and Texas have clearly already considered leaving, and until they sign the proposed contract that would bind their first and second-tier tv rights to the Big 12 for the next six years, is anyone confident they’ll stay put long-term?

This weekend Louisville AD Tom Jurich told me his student-athletes enjoy being in the Big East. He noted how much the non-football athletes enjoy playing against conference opponent Notre Dame. He talked about some of the great cities his athletes get to travel to for competition.

If a school like Louisville can make as much money from new tv deals in the Big East, should they really join the Big 12 and give up being a part of that basketball tradition just to say they compete against bigger football powers? In my opinion, no.

What say you, Louisville fans?

An Unlikely but Interesting Scenario: UNC to SEC

A couple of weeks ago two different people whose work I admire told me they were hearing rumors of the SEC talking to UNC. They didn’t reveal their sources, so I can’t evaluate the merit of these rumors. However, like the Texas to the ACC rumor, I thought it was crazy. Today on Twitter (follow me @SportsBizMiss) someone asked me what school that was the least talked about was the most likely for the SEC. Then I started thinking about it….

Sure, go ahead and lock me up in a padded room in a straight jacket. I’ve officially lost it. I’m considering UNC to the SEC. Do I think it’s likely? No. Do I think it’s interesting to consider? Of course. This is why I love conference realignment.

If it were all about money, UNC should jump at the chance to join the SEC. The Tar Heel’s athletic department turned a paltry $140,000 profit on the backs of students who funded nearly 10% of the budget with $6.9 million in student fees. It also took $14.6 million in contributions to reach that profit.

Over in the SEC, only one school needed 10% of their budget to be funded by student fees: Mississippi State. Yet, Mississippi State managed a nice $1.9 million profit in the athletic department without pulling a single dime from the booster club for the 2009-2010 school year.

That’s the power of being a member of the SEC.

The simple truth is football makes more money than basketball. BCS payouts are bigger than March Madness payouts to the athletic department. Television contracts are driven by football, not basketball and mean bigger money for the SEC than the ACC. Most football programs turn larger profits than basketball programs.

Joining the SEC would easily mean $5-6 million more each year in conference distributions for the Tar Heels. Likely far more with a reworked television contract. Being a member of the SEC would also improve UNC’s football recruiting, and an improved football program means big money for any athletic department.

But, it’s not all about money or football for some schools. UNC is likely one of those. They have power in the ACC. The conference needs them more than they need the conference. The same would not be true in the SEC. UNC has to ask itself: does it want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond with a healthier bank account? What’s more important: history, tradition and power or the ability to be a self-sufficient athletic department? Fans yearn for the former and then criticize schools for not being the latter. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t have it both ways.

In the end, I don’t see UNC moving to the SEC. Is it the right choice? It depends on what you believe a school should value most highly.

How Much Does A&M Stand To Gain From SEC Move?

This writer gained some new friends in College Station (that's me in the middle of the gang)

Aside from a chance to exit the shadow of the Longhorns, Texas A&M also stands to gain some revenue from its move to the SEC.

For the 2009-2010 school year, A&M received $10.17 million from the Big 12. Included in that figure is $841,381 for bowl game expenses, so A&M’s actual Big 12 share was $9.33. Each member of the SEC that year received $17.42 million.

Texas A&M expected to receive $12.71 million for the 2010-2011 school year, $1.48 million of which was for bowl expense reimbursement. Its $11.23 million Big 12 share (exclusive of bowl money) paled in comparison to the SEC’s $18.33 million per member.

According to A&M’s budget for this school year they expect to receive a conference distribution of around $15.83 million from the Big 12. Reports immediately following the announcement of A&M’s acceptance into the SEC today stated ESPN would be increasing rights fees to allow SEC members to receive at least the same compensation they would have received prior to A&M’s addition. That means A&M will see a minimum bump of $2.5 million, and closer to $3.4 million if the SEC repeats last year’s over 5% increase in overall conference monies to be distributed.

Aside from any conference buyout, A&M may also experience some additional travel costs as they join the SEC. However, don’t expect it to decimate the additional revenue they’ll be receiving. An open records request of Nebraska shows an increase of $1 million in travel costs following the school’s move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten.

In speaking with Aggies during my recent visit to College Station, the real value in this move isn’t in conference distributions, its in the ability to build a national brand for the school. As part of the Big 12, A&M was “one of the Texas schools.” In the SEC, they’ll be the Texas school. There’s a lot to gain from this move if the Aggies capitalize on the opportunity.

Note: I should note that I didn’t compare the estimated revenue members of the Big 12 have been projected to make beginning next season under the new FOX deal. That’s because I firmly believe the SEC will have an improved contract after a fourteenth member is added. I’ll wait until the time comes for a comparison.

How Conference Realignment Could Impact the BCS

The Big 12 has been in danger of extinction for more than a year, and now the Big East has been added to the Most Endangered list with strong rumors that Pitt and Syracuse are joining the ACC.

Both are automatic-qualifying conferences, which means they get an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game (Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl or Rose Bowl). But what happens if one of those conferences folds? Or perhaps one is forced to add several schools to remain viable?

Current AQ conferences were determined based on data from the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 football seasons. That data will be reevaluated following the 2011 season based on the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. Perfect timing for conference realignment.

Three sets of data are considered: rank of the highest-ranked team in the conference, rank of all conference teams and number of teams in the top 25.

Here’s how it all played out last time:

1. Average rank of highest-ranked team in BCS Standings
1. Pac-12……………………………………3.5
2. Southeastern…………………………..3.5
3. Big Ten……………………………………4.25
4. Big 12……………………………………..4.5
5. Atlantic Coast…………………………..8.25
6. Big East…………………………………..9.0
7. Mountain West……………………….14.25
8. Western Athletic……………………..16.75
9. Conference USA………………………40.975
10. Mid-American…………………………55.25
11. Sun Belt………………………………..68.625

2. Average conference ranking (ranking of all teams in the conference by the six computers)
1. Pac-12…………………………………….40.17
2. Southeastern…………………………..40.65
3. Big 12…………………………………….42.38
4. Atlantic Coast………………………….42.47
5. Big Ten…………………………………..42.65
6. Big East………………………………….46.76
7. Mountain West…………………………67.46
8. Western Athletic……………………….76.36
9. Conference USA………………………..81.41
10. Mid-American………………………….89.82
11. Sun Belt…………………………………93.52

3. Adjusted Top 25 performance ranking (number of teams in top 25 of BCS standings, as a percentage of the top conference)
1. Southeastern…………………………….100.00%
2. Big Ten……………………………………..78.35%
3. Pac-12………………………………………66.29%
4. Big 12……………………………………….64.29%
5. Atlantic Coast…………………………….57.14%
6. Big East…………………………………….49.11%
7. Western Athletic…………………………22.32%
8. Mountain West…………………………..20.09%
9. Conference USA……………………………0.00%
10. Mid-American………………………………0.00%
11. Sun Belt……………………………………..0.00%

There is a threshold for annual qualification that requires the conference be in the top six in the first two sets of data and in the top 50% in the third set of data. However, a team can obtain a waiver from the Presidential Oversight Committee if they are in the top six in the first two sets of data, or top five in one and top seven in the other, and top 33% of the third set.

In light of this, it’s important conferences take on-the-field performance into account when making realignment decisions. This doesn’t mean that’s enough to get you into an AQ conference (I’m talking to you, Boise State), but it does have to be considered. If the Mountain West still had Utah, TCU and BYU, along with the Boise State addition, the Big 12’s AQ status could be in serious danger depending on who they chose to add.

Fortunately for the Big 12, I don’t think there’s a non-AQ who could surpass them at this point, even with the losses. However, I do think it means if the Big East or Big 12 folds there would be an AQ opening for the taking.

Conference Realignment Predictions

How conferences will realign is anyone’s guess. I’ve spoken with athletic department executives at a number of schools and they’ve asked me as many questions as I’ve asked them. No one has a clear idea of how things will shake out.

What I do know is that my predictions from over a month ago were wrong. So, I’m ready to roll out some new ones. This time I want to talk about the timing, because I think that’s a huge part of how this all unfolds.

The SEC is going to add Texas A&M. The legal maneuvering is a stall tactic and will be resolved.

It’s beginning to sound like Pitt and Syracuse to the ACC will be the surprise move that will blow things wide open. Let’s say that happens next.

Now the Big East needs to add at least a couple of teams…or go back to being a basketball conference. Six weeks ago I said that the Big East would be an innocent bystander who would be fatally wounded in the conference realignment standoff. I still think it’s possible.

If the Big East is looking around, where are they looking? Should they go after Big 12 schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech or Baylor? Those schools might have to make a decision before they know if Oklahoma or Texas will finish off the Big 12 by leaving. If you were one of those schools, what would you do? I think I’d be listening to the Big East, especially if I was Iowa State or Baylor and got the call. If you’re those schools, do you want to risk that there are no available chairs when the music stops playing?

I think it’s a tougher call for Kansas, Kansas State and Texas Tech, because they could end up with a better option. If I’m them, I try to stall as long as possible.

The Big East could also invite UCF, East Carolina, Houston or a number of other schools. If I’m any of those schools and get the call, I’m putting ink on paper as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma could finalize its move to the Pac-12 any day now. Oklahoma State’s President is perhaps the only President getting any sleep these days. His horse is effectively hitched to Oklahoma’s wagon.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State moving to the Pac-12 do not mean the end of the Big 12. The Big 12 is over when Texas says it is. If they want to stay, and they certainly have reasons to, the Big 12 can look at BYU, Air Force, Houston, SMU or maybe try to lure a Big East school away. Again, the Big East is like a deer frozen in the headlights. It just has to wait and see if anyone takes it out.

In the meantime, the SEC needs a 14th member. If the Big 12 stays intact, I’m not convinced they add 14 right away. However, if the Big 12 is coming apart, the SEC could snag Missouri.

And what exactly is the Big Ten doing? Delaney is like a General up on a hill watching the battle take place in the valley below. He could swoop in and make a move if he needs to, but for right now he appears to be lying in wait.

Obviously the Big Ten would love to add Notre Dame, but I don’t see them joining a conference until their hand is forced by the BCS. They’ll sit this round out. Other candidates? Kansas, Missouri, UCONN, Syracuse and Rutgers. If the SEC grabs Missouri first, I think the Big Ten could add all four of the others. Kansas State doesn’t get to tag along with Kansas because of academics, and the other three make a nice triangle around New York. The Big Ten Network would love that. And remember, this isn’t about ratings. It’s about being able to tell advertisers you’re in a market.

Back to the ACC. I still think Texas to the ACC makes more sense than most think. Who comes with them? If I’m the ACC, I want Kansas. Which means I better get to them before the Big Ten or Pac-12 do. I don’t think Texas politicians will be able to force Texas Tech down the ACC’s throat along with Texas, and I don’t believe the ACC wants them.

Does the Pac-12 want to go to 16? Maybe they want Kansas and are willing to look past Kansas State’s academics to take them too. I’m not sold on this though. They won’t take BYU with their culture that ‘s not a perfect fit and their ban on Sunday athletics. They won’t take Boise State either, sorry Bronco fans.

I’m unconvinced we’re going to four 16-team super conferences. I think it’s a media creation that fans have latched onto because everyone thinks it sets up the system for a four-team playoff.  Conferences aren’t going to add unless the final picture involves more money for its members. Not every addition does that.

Think you know how it should all shake out? Try the conference realignment game Chadd Scott and I developed – Choose Your Own Adventure style!

Start Now!