DESTIN, Fla. - The Southeastern Conference will distribute more money than ever to member schools - but the figure could be eclipsed in the near future.
The SEC announced Friday a payday of $289.4 million for fiscal year 2012-13, or $20.7 million per school. But the numbers could grow exponentially soon, as the league expects to reap a windfall from the advent of college football's new postseason structure and the SEC Network (both will begin with the 2014-15 school year).
"It's the highest in our history," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said as the league wrapped up its annual meetings. "We hope to be able to tell you that from now on out."
It's a continuation of growth. Ten years ago, the league distributed $101.9 million to members. This year's payday is an increase of more than $45 million - which means even with the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, the pot got bigger.
"Remember," Slive said, "we're dividing by 14 (schools), so that's a pretty healthy number."
It's about to get healthier. The league has not released terms of its recently struck deal with ESPN for the SEC Network. But when that revenue is combined with increased payouts of as much as $100 million annually from the College Football Playoff - including $40 million a year from a new deal with the Sugar Bowl - SEC schools' paydays could grow by at least $10 million a year, according to a USA TODAY Sports analysis.
"It's totally unrelated to the future," Slive said of this year's payout. "We feel pretty good about that."
He added: "We feel like we'll be able to support our 5,000 student-athletes well into the future."
For comparison, the Big 12 Conference announced revenue of $198 million Friday. It's also a record for that league, and it's divided among 10 members. Eight members will each receive $22 million. TCU and West Virginia, which just finished their first year in the league, each get $11 million.
Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC for 2012-13, but each received full shares.
"If you're in our league you're in our league from the day that you join," Slive said. "So we treat everybody the same."
The SEC's total trailed the most recent number available from the Big Ten, which reported $315.5 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year according to its recently filed federal tax return. The 2011-12 total was an increase of more than $50 million over the Big Ten's 2010-11 revenue.
Among other business conducted at the SEC's annual meetings:
- The SEC postponed consideration of changes to its conference football scheduling. The earliest the league could change to a nine-game conference schedule for football is 2016. The league will retain its eight-game schedule, including the current format of six divisional opponents, one permanent cross-division rival and one rotating cross-division game, through the 2015 season. For 2016, presidents will consider a permanent scheduling solution. Although coaches voted 13-1 in a nonbinding straw poll in favor of retaining the eight-game schedule, there appears to be momentum for a move to nine games - which would put the SEC in line by 2016 with the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12. There was significant disagreement over how many cross-division games to play, and whether permanent cross-division rivals should be retained. "This will be an important exercise," Slive said of the future scheduling review. "It's hard to conceive of a schedule that makes everybody happy about everything."
- There was no discussion of a grant of media rights, which are designed to help keep schools from bolting to other leagues - something which hasn't been an issue with the SEC. Slive said the SEC has a "de facto grand of rights." "Some conferences have a piece of paper," he said. "We are who we are, and we feel pretty comfortable."
- Though uniform drug-testing standards were discussed, the SEC will leave policy for testing and penalty structure to the individual schools. "We'll have continuing discussion on the topic," Slive said. "But there's no policy going forward. We'll continue to be attentive to policies of our members."
George Schroeder, USA TODAY Sports