THE SOURCE

Where would the money come from to compensate athletes? From new media revenue generated by conference TV contracts, NCAA tournament units, and the College Football Playoff. Here’s the breakdown that reflects overall totals from the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12:

CONFERENCE TV CONTRACTS
2004 2012 2015 2020
$290M $696M $1.099B $1.633B

Includes conference TV contracts with ESPN and Fox, conference channels, championship games and Notre Dame’s deal with NBC. Future revenue from the Pac-12 Networks was not included because the conference has not determined a revenue distribution model. No revenue was projected for an ACC channel.

NCAA TOURNAMENT UNITS
2004 2012 2015 2020
$54.8M $87M $100M $125M

Units are accumulated by schools based on games won in the NCAA basketball tournament over a six-year span. The money comes from the NCAA’s media deal with Turner and CBS. Only money distributed in units was used for this model because that’s the money that goes to the schools. Other revenue from the media deal goes to Division II and Division III, academic programs, the student-athlete opportunity fund, and NCAA operating expenses. This model attempts to keep those other programs intact.

BCS/COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
2004 (BCS) 2012 (BCS) 2015 (CFP) 2020 (CFP)
$100M $160M $512M $585M

The 2004 and 2012 revenue comes from separate BCS deals with ESPN, as well as ESPN’s deals with the Rose Bowl. The College Football Playoff revenue takes into account the College Football Playoff deal with ESPN and the network’s individual deals with the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls. The top five conferences will receive about 73 percent of the total College Football Playoff revenue.

TOTALS
2004 2012 2015 2020
$444.8M $943M $1.711B $2.343B
  Up 112% over 2004 Up 81.4% over 2012 Up 148% over 2012

Sources: SportsBusiness Journal research

FROM THE SCHOOLS’ PERSPECTIVE

How would paying college athletes affect each school’s athletic budget? The chart below provides a glimpse of various schools and their projected athletic department revenue in 2015 and 2020, and what it would be if a quarter of new TV revenue were paid to athletes.

For example, Alabama made $124.1 million in 2011-12, with projected revenue of $129.3 million in 2015 and $142 million in 2020. But if athletes received 25 percent of new TV revenue, Alabama would make $128 million in 2015 and $137.5 million in 2020. Projections show that the Crimson Tide and others could still grow their revenue, even in a system that compensates athletes.

Only revenue from TV-related sources are used in the projections, which don’t take into account annual increases from ticket sales, sponsorships or donations.

All figures are in millions.

  2011-12 2015 2020 2015 2020
SEC       (IF ATHLETES ARE PAID)
Alabama $124.1 $129.3 $142.0 $128.0 $137.5
South Carolina $87.6 $92.9 $105.5 $91.6 $101.1
Mississippi $46.4 $48.2 $60.8 $46.9 $56.3
ACC          
Florida State $81.4 $86.5 $92.0 $85.2 $89.3
N.C. State $65.5 $70.5 $75.9 $69.2 $73.3
Wake Forest $48.7 $53.7 $59.2 $52.5 $56.6
Notre Dame $97.1 $109.6 $116.7 $106.5 $111.8
BIG TEN          
Ohio State $142.0 $143.6 $155.4 $143.2 $152.1
Michigan State $79.0 $80.7 $92.5 $80.3 $89.1
Northwestern $61.1 $62.9 $74.7 $62.5 $71.3
BIG 12          
Texas $163.3 $174.1 $180.4 $171.4 $176.1
Kansas $79.1 $90.1 $96.4 $87.3 $92.1
Texas Tech $59.6 $70.8 $77.1 $67.9 $72.7
PAC-12          
Stanford $89.1 $100.3 $104.4 $97.5 $100.6
Cal $68.1 $83.4 $87.5 $79.6 $82.7
Washington State $47.9 $64.3 $68.3 $60.1 $63.2

Source: SportsBusiness Journal