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Mountain West will split revenue 50-50 if champion makes playoff bowl

The Mountain West will split available revenue 50-50 with the conference champion should that school qualify for a playoff bowl beginning in 2014, CBSSports.com has learned.

The unique approach -- perhaps the first of its kind -- was discussed by the MWC before Boise State decided to remain with the conference. Under the plan, a conference champion that plays in a playoff bowl could earn an extra $2.5 million-$3.5 million.

The figure is a modest rise in the amount distributed under the current BCS structure. The BCS gives way to the four-team playoff beginning in 2014. Starting that season, the highest ranked champion of the so-called Group of Five (MWC, MAC, Sun Belt, Big East, Conference USA) will automatically get one of the 12 available playoff bowl berths each season.

With the (re)addition of Boise State, the Mountain West has established itself as the conference that would capture that automatic berth in most years.

The new playoff revenue distribution plan among the Group of Five is still in development. However, several sources told CBSSports.com that it will probably look something like this: There will be an available annual pool of $86 million each season. That's the equivalent of $17.2 million per conference multiplied by five.

Of that amount, $60 million will be divided equally among the five. That alone could double the TV rights fees of some of those conferences. Another $20 million will be divided annually based on a ranking system. The highest-rated conference that year will get approximately $7 million. The lowest rated will get $1.5 million. That would leave approximately $6 million. If it has a team in a playoff bowl, the Mountain West will give half of that amount to its champion. The other half would be split among the conference members.

There are still discussions for conferences to be provided an additional $1.5 million each year out of the playoff pot to defer bowl game expenses (unused tickets, etc.).

Those are all approximate figures since it is not clear whether the Group of Five has come to a final determination on revenue distribution. However, it was stressed that the 50-50 split was not a concession to Boise State for rejoining the league.

By playing in the Orange Bowl, Northern Illinois earned $28.2 million. The biggest payday in MAC history worked out this way:

• $7 million of the $28.2 million will be divided between the five non-BCS conferences (Conference USA, Mountain West, MAC, Sun Belt and WAC).

• Another $7 million is divided into 15 “units” based on conference strength. Because it is the No. 1 ranked non-BCS league this season, the MAC will receive five of those 15 shares, followed by the No. 2-ranked conference getting four shares, etc.

• The MAC will get $8 million of the remaining $14 million as the participating conference.

• The other $6 million will be split up into those 15 units.

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