SEC rakes in $527.4 million in first year of CFP and SEC Network

The SEC reported $527.4 million in revenue during the first year of the College Football Playoff and the SEC Network in 2014-15, a 62-percent increase from the previous year.

In his final year as SEC commissioner, Mike Slive received approximately $3.6 million in base compensation, according to the conference’s tax return provided Tuesday to CBS Sports. Slive made $2.1 million in 2013-14.

Slive’s total compensation last year was reported at $3,655,576, which might have made him the highest-paid commissioner in 2014-15. The SEC was the first among the five major conferences to provide tax returns. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was credited with $3.5 million in 2013-14.

New SEC commissioner Greg Sankey totaled $409,002 during the fiscal year that ended Aug. 31, 2015. Sankey previously worked at the conference office and did not become commissioner until June 2015.

SEC spokesman Herb Vincent said the SEC's university presidents and chancellors determined Slive's salary, and the conference wouldn't comment on why Slive's salary increased so much. Sankey's compensation reflected in the tax document does not include any money associated with his role as commissioner, Vincent said. Sankey's salary as commissioner has not been made public yet. 

The SEC distributed $457.8 million to its 14 members, an average of $32.7 million per school. That’s up from $21 million per school in 2013-14. As recently as 2008-09, SEC members got $13.1 million per year from the conference distribution. The SEC's revenue increased by 222 percent between 2008-09 and 2014-15 when factoring inflation.

The past fiscal year was the first with the lucrative College Football Playoff, new bowl deals and the SEC Network, which got widespread distribution immediately at expensive cable and satellite rates through ESPN/Disney negotiations.

On the SEC’s 990 form, TV/radio rights fees for 2014-15 were reported as $311.8 million, up from $210.4 million in 2013-14. The tax return doesn’t specify the revenue sources from TV and radio. Postseason revenue for the SEC increased from $98.6 million in 2013-14 to $162.8 million in 2014-15.

The SEC had $66.7 million in net assets by August 2015, up from $49.5 million the previous year. The SEC finished the 2015 fiscal year with a $17.2 million annual operating surplus, the conference's highest since a $7.6 million surplus in fiscal year 2008.

Executive associate commissioner Mark Womack remained the second-highest paid SEC employee at $427,636 in total pay, a 3-percent increase. Sankey was up 4 percent for his total pay.

The SEC paid $967,320 in legal fees to its Charlotte law firm, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson. That was up from $639,162 in 2013-14. Legal fees for the SEC have increased in each of the past five years. Back in 2010-11, the conference’s legal fees were $248,814.

The amount of money generated by the SEC last year drew the attention of Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor, who went on Twitter and posted, "The SEC Made 527.4 Million in Total Revenue and Players Ain't Get a Penny. Modern Form of Slavery." Tabor later apologized and wrote, "Went to (sic) far with the slavery thing and I apologize, can't let my emotions get to me. But y'all get the message."

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The SEC keeps hauling in more and more cash. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Jon Solomon is CBS Sports's national college football writer. A former Alabama resident, he now lives in Maryland and also writes extensively on NCAA topics. Jon previously worked at The Birmingham News,... Full Bio

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