Big Ten saw big increased revenue in 2014-15, team payments on par with SEC
The Big Ten fell just short of the SEC in 2014-15, paying out its longstanding members $32.4 million each two seasons ago
The Big Ten generated $448.8 million in revenue during 2014-15, a 32-percent increase over one year for college sports' second-wealthiest conference behind the SEC.
In the first year with Maryland and Rutgers as members -- coinciding with the debut of the College Football Playoff -- the Big Ten took in $110 million more than in 2013-14, according to tax records provided Wednesday to CBS Sports. The league paid its 11 longstanding members about $32.4 million each.
That's on par with the SEC's payout of $32.7 million and considerably more than the Pac-12 ($25.1 million) and Big 12 ($23.3 million). The SEC generated $527.4 million in revenue last year. The ACC is the only major conference yet to release its tax records.
The money will only increase for the Big Ten, which is separating itself financially with the SEC from the other Power Five conferences. Last month, SportsBusiness Journal reported the Big Ten is close to signing a deal with Fox for half of its media rights at a value of $250 million a year over six years. The second half of the TV deal will show exactly how wealthy the Big Ten will be.
One of the major questions in the ongoing negotiations is whether the Big Ten will still have a major presence on ESPN. SportsBusiness Journal reported that ESPN offered a low bid for the Big Ten rights. ESPN has said it wants to remain partners with the Big Ten for a long time.
"We're interested in having great partners that have great platforms who are interested in marketing and promotion," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday at the Big Ten spring meetings, according to the Detroit Free-Press. "The market will decide what happens. It's a new day, and we've approached it that way."
In the latest tax return, Delany was credited with $2.6 million in total compensation. That's down from nearly $3.4 million in 2013-14, when Delany received a $1 million bonus and was credited with $833,333 as deferred payment from previous years.
Last year, Delany's salary was $1,905,436 (down about $151,000 from 2013-14). He also received $273,900 in deferred compensation, $42,100 in other reportable compensation, and $40,964 in nontaxable benefits.
Delany's compensation total means Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott likely remained the highest-paid commissioner in 2014-15. Earlier Wednesday, the Pac-12's tax return showed Scott became the first $4 million-a-year commissioner at $4.05 million. Then-SEC commissioner Mike Slive received $3.6 million, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made $2.6 million.
Penn State was back to being fully funded by the Big Ten after getting docked almost $3 million a year earlier due to NCAA sanctions. The Big Ten's three newest members are on different paths toward receiving full shares: Maryland ($24.1 million), Nebraska ($19.8 million) and Rutgers ($10.5 million).
Maryland also received an $11.6 million loan from the Big Ten. Maryland settled a lawsuit with the ACC and agreed to pay $31 million in exit fees to leave for the Big Ten.
Rutgers did not experience a major financial jump by moving to the Big Ten -- at least not yet. It went from $8.3 million in the American Athletic Conference to $10.5 million in the Big Ten. More significant money is eventually coming, but for 2014-15, Rutgers got paid more like a Group of Five school than a Power Five school.
The Big Ten reported $21.5 million in 2014-15 income from investment in the Big Ten Network, up from $12.4 million a year earlier. Those amounts do not include annual rights fees the Big Ten receives from the network. Fox owns 51 percent of the Big Ten Network.
The Big Ten's net assets as of June 30, 2015, were $63.7 million. That was up from $52.1 million a year earlier.
Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia remained the conference office's second-highest paid employee at $464,879 in total compensation, up 19 percent from 2013-14. Other high-paid employees: chief communication officer Diane Dietz ($298,136, up 11 percent); associate commissioner Mark Rudner ($247,821, up 3 percent); and associate commissioner Rick Boyages ($241,132, up 1 percent). Traviolia and Dietz accrued deferred compensation for a supplemental non-qualified retirement plan.
In addition, the Big Ten reported spending $2.3 million on legal services with Mayer Brown LLP. That's up from $1.1 million in 2013-14. The Big Ten spent about $5.1 million in legal costs over four years from 2011-12 to 2014-15. The Big Ten, like other conferences, has been a defendant in lawsuits over changing the NCAA rules restricting college athletes from being paid. That's the one place in college sports where the market doesn't dictate compensation amounts.
"The Conference is subject to certain legal proceedings and claims which have arisen in the ordinary course of its operations," the Big Ten wrote on its recent tax return. "In the opinion of the Conference's officials, the proceedings and claims will not have a material impact on the Conference's financial position or results of activities."
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