Teel Time: How did ACC per-school revenue of last four years compare to other conferences?

Commissioner John Swofford and ACC have 15-year media deal with ESPN

The ACC’s most recent four federal tax returns in hand, I totaled the revenue the conference has distributed to each of its 12 schools. Not surprisingly, given their respective football programs, Virginia Tech received the most, Duke the least.

But courtesy of the league’s long-standing policy of dividing most revenue equally, the gap from the Hokies ($54,092,780) to the Blue Devils ($45,922,625) was not jarring, about $2 million per year.

Virginia was 10th on the money trough at $47,912,523. 

What’s most interesting is contrasting the ACC numbers to other conferences. Since each distributes revenue differently, such comparisons are not strictly apples-to-apples, but they do provide some context.

For example, courtesy of Jon Wilmer’s blog at the San Jose Mercury-News, the Pacific 10’s per-school revenue outlays for the last four years are available. The numbers range from $43,308,405 for Southern California to $27,594,469 for Washington State.

So the ACC’s low was $2.6 million, or about $625,000 per year, above the Pac-10’s high. And the ACC’s high was nearly double the Pac-10’s low.

Now with the addition of Colorado and Utah, a new commissioner in Larry Scott, and lucrative TV deals with ESPN and Fox, the Pac-12’s finances are poised to change dramatically. The contracts are worth a reported $3 billion over 12 years, or on average, $21 million annually per school.

The ACC’s 15-year arrangement with ESPN is worth $3.6 billion, which figures to about $17.1 million annually per school. The contract was renegotiated this spring to reflect the impending arrival of Syracuse and Pittsburgh from the Big East, but ESPN had exclusive rights in the amended package, limiting the ACC’s leverage.

Regardless, based on the Big East’s recent tax returns, Syracuse and Pittsburgh soon will enjoy what for them will be unprecedented windfalls.

In the last four fiscal years, through 2010-11, the Orange received $30,276,525 from the Big East. The Panthers received $34,486,845. The ACC average for that span was $49,391,094.

Moreover, the ACC’s media revenue is set to increase by 30 percent, and the conference far better positioned than the Big East for college football’s impending four-team playoff and six-bowl hierarchy. The ACC champion will have guaranteed access to those six games; the Big East will not.

Not to suggest that the ACC was or will be the richest kid on the block. From fiscal 2007-08 through 2010-11, the Southeastern Conference distributed, on average, $57,420,000 per school. Plus, the SEC estimates 2011-12 per-school payouts of approximately $20.13 million.

Nor to suggest the ACC is a college sports pauper, financially or otherwise. As the numbers and future football postseason structure show, quite the contrary.

Below are the ACC’s school-by-school totals for the last four years.     

VIRGINIA TECH: $54,092,780

GEORGIA TECH: $50,901,639

BOSTON COLLEGE: $50,659,721

FLORIDA STATE: $50,597,918

CLEMSON: $49,819,479

NORTH CAROLINA: $49,513,447