FBS conferences pay nearly $50M for outsourced work in 2012-13

College football power brokerage extends beyond conference offices, locker rooms and athletic departments.

Lawyers, consultants, builders play prominent – and lucrative -- roles in today’s game.

How Conferences Spend
The SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC and American spent a combined $46,128,924 on independent contractors in the 2012-13 fiscal year, tax records show. Here is how that money was spent. The Pac-12 and Big Ten both built new offices during that span, including the pricey build-up of the Pac-12 Networks.
Category Spent
Construction $33.0M*
Legal fees $4.3M
Consultants $2.6M
BCS administration $2.8M
Transmission/Comcast $1.4M
Rent $1.1M
Officiating $0.9M
Lodging $0.3M
Game buyout $0.25M
* - mostly Pac-12 Networks

FBS conferences spent $46.1 million on independent contractors in the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to tax records obtained by CBSSports.com.

Much of that went to the construction and installation of the Pac-12 Networks -- owned by the conference itself -- during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. The league paid more than $31 million to Matt Construction Corporation and Diversified Systems for the launch of the channel’s San Francisco-based studios. The building will be considered an asset for the next tax filing.

The Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, SEC and American spent a combined $4.3 million on legal counsel in that span, led by the Big Ten’s $1,510,450 paid to Chicago-based Mayer Brown.

The Big Ten relies on its outside counsel for licensing, infringement protection, review of membership documentation (Maryland and Rutgers enter the league this year), litigation defense and “staying abreast” of cases such as O’Bannon, Big Ten deputy commissioner Brad Traviolia said.

“What we’re seeing now is unprecedented,” Traviolia said. “Next year and further into the future you’re seeing legal dollar signs going up a bit.”

The American had a busy fiscal year between losing several schools to conference realignment and negotiating a television deal with ESPN. The tax return reflected as much, with $932,890 paid to legal teams and nearly $465,175 to media consultants.

Money Spent by Conference
Conference Spent
Pac-12 $35.1M
Big Ten $5.1M
ACC $2.3M
American $1.5M
Big 12 $1.3M
SEC $0.7M

How’s this for a busy year: The American reported $29,739,340 in ‘membership exit fees’ in 2012-13.

The ACC also stayed busy with the fight with Maryland over exit fees, the addition of Louisville and the conference’s grant of rights, though the league reported a surprisingly low $298,996 in legal fees. The ACC also spent $1,061,432 on Phillips Arena rent (2012 hoops tournament in Atlanta), $308,565 on Ritz Carlton Hotel lodging and $250,000 to Towson University for a buyout game.

As for consulting, the Big Ten spent $747,377 for Teamworks Media and the Pac-12 paid Evolution Media Capital, LLC a total of $1,254,221. Teamworks Media handles Big Ten television spots, Big Ten Network branding and the creative direction of the league office’s interactive museum. The Pac-12 sought consultation over its television deals with ESPN and Fox.

The Big Ten also built new offices in Rosemont, Ill, which cost $1,704,451 million.

The Big 12 paid $1,009,912 paid to the law firm of Polsinelli Shughart PC and $106,026 to Neinas Sports Services. Chuck Neinas was the interim Big 12 commissioner before Bob Bowlsby officially joined the league in May 2012.

Conference Staff Pay
(As reported on '12-13 tax return)
Conference Pay Exec.
Pac-12 $4,582,572 4
ACC $3,319,441 6
Big Ten $3,318,805 8
Big 12 $2,593,710 8
SEC $2,429,622 5
Exec is number of executives reported. Pac-12 also filed staff pay for Pac-12 Networks, which isn't applied here.

The SEC was the most conservative of the bunch. Save money paid to officials, which many conferences report as independent contractors, its only outsource work was $565,446 for the services of Robinson, Bradshaw and Hinson.

A league is not obligated to report contract work under $100,000. The Mountain West, MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt did not report independent contract work during the fiscal year.

Traviolia estimates the Big Ten spent $15 million to run its total operation last year, or about 5 percent of the league’s $300-plus-million in overall revenue. The league likes to stay well above 90 percent distribution to its membership. Its budget review committee reviews spending – as was the case with the league’s New York City office, which goes on next year’s ledger.

“We believe we’ve made case to our schools there will be healthy return on investment,” said Traviolia when broaching expenses with membership.


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