You may not have heard, but the Pac-12 this week trumpeted its latest day at the pay gate.
It’s not something the conference has done in the past and was clearly designed to trumpet the record total ($509 million).
In fact, the second paragraph — all 95 words — highlights the increases in revenue and campus distributions over the past four financial reporting cycles.
My interest, as noted in this insta-reaction column, is less in the total revenue than the campus payouts. The mission of the conference, after all, is to serve the schools. They are the conference.
Since the Pac-12 issued a look-at-our numbers release, which is certainly within its right, that’s exactly what I did:
The crack Hotline research staff compared the Pac-12’s percentage increase in campus distributions to those of the other Power Five conferences.
Sure, the numbers matter on an absolute level, but they also matter on a relative scale:
If the Pac-12’s annual growth rate in campus distributions is 10 percent and the Big Ten and SEC are only increasing their payouts by two percent, that’s an advantage for the Pac-12, right?
Welp, as Wilner says in his very next paragraph, context matters. And context doesn’t look so hot.
The Pac-12 said it has increased the cash sent to its schools by 63 percent over a five-year window.
(In raw dollars, the bookends are the $228 million distributed in FY13 and the $371 million distributed in FY17.)
How does that 63 percent increase compare?
Over the same span, the Big 12 has increased its campus payouts by 69 percent.
The Big Ten has increased its payouts by 79 percent.
The SEC has increased its payouts by, um, 99 percent.
What should we make of that?
Don’t dismiss the nuance: Each conference has its own culture and challenges, its own financial structure and reporting processes.
But it sure appears that the Pac-12 has not performed as well as its peers when it comes to the rate of increase of the dollars sent to the schools.
Go back to what he wrote in that first quote block: “The mission of the conference, after all, is to serve the schools. They are the conference.” Then consider that Larry Scott made more money than any of his conference commissioner peers in fiscal year 2016.
When it comes to money, the people running our universities aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. And some of you wonder where the money to pay student-athletes might come from.