On the surface, the good times continue to roll for the SEC.
After total SEC revenue soared past the half-billion dollar mark for the first time in 2015-16 to $565.9 million, the conference announced Thursday that it is splitting $573.8 million among its 14 member schools.
That comes out to a few dollars under $41 million per school ($40.986 million), up slightly from $40.4 million per school the year before. The revenue distribution does not count a total of $23.1 million retained by SEC schools that played in bowl games after the 2016 season.
Up! Up is good!
Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll see the key word in that quote isn’t directional. It’s “slightly”.
SEC revenue distribution took an enormous leap upward after the debut of the SEC Network in August 2014. The 2015 calendar year was the first full year for the network, taking each school’s SEC revenue from $20.9 million for the 2013-14 to $32.7 million per school for 2014-15 and $40.4 million last year.
When you’re used to seeing multi-million dollar bumps in revenue year-over-year, a few hundred thousand ain’t gonna feel the same. Not even close. No, sir, not when you’ve got ever-enlarging coaching contract terms (with their attendant buyouts, heh), facilities arms races and the general ego trip with the Big Ten over which conference’s financial Johnson’s bigger to handle.
Rabalais writes, “Such huge gains probably could not be expected again this year. Still, SEC revenue distribution has increased every year since 1980”, which sounds like a sound bite tailored perfectly for Greg Sankey’s use, but I have a hard time believing it’s going to mollify school presidents over the long haul. Which means… well, if you’ve followed SEC football long enough, you probably know exactly what it means.