first_img Comments Published on October 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Jon: When Syracuse and Pittsburgh made the decision to join the Atlantic Coast Conference last month, it was impossible to ignore the money.The ACC’s current TV contract with ESPN alone will bring in nearly $2 billion during the next 12 years, while the Big East conference is grinding out the last couple of years of a six-year deal worth about $200 million. Meanwhile, the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern conferences all have TV contracts worth at least $1.1 billion.But SU Athletic Director Daryl Gross said the move to the ACC was motivated by stability, not by money.‘That’s not about the money,’ Gross said. ‘We can stay in the Big East and get the same deal in 18 months from now. So it’s not about the money. That’s totally wrong. I’ve heard that over and over. I’ve heard it nationally, I’ve heard it locally, I’ve heard it everywhere.’Jake Crouthamel, SU’s athletic director from 1978 to 2005 and who played a key role in the formation of the Big East in 1979, isn’t buying it.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘Well, I can’t disagree with Daryl about the stability,’ Crouthamel said. ‘But when you translate that, that means dollars. If you look at the TV contract that the ACC has and the TV contract that the Big East has, there’s hardly any comparison. So you go where the money is.’Although it is unclear if Syracuse’s decision to join the ACC was motivated by money, there’s no doubt that the ACC provides a more comfortable financial situation. Whether it’s the lucrative TV contract with ESPN that is currently being renegotiated, the practice of equal revenue sharing in the ACC or the past financial benefits felt by Virginia Tech after it left the Big East for the ACC in 2004, Syracuse athletics can expect a boost in profits whenever it begins play in the ACC.TV contractLast July, ESPN and the ACC reached a 12-year agreement for exclusive rights to every conference-controlled football and men’s basketball game, plus Olympic sports matchups, women’s basketball and conference championships. The deal, worth $1.86 billion over 12 years, began this season and is set to run through 2022-23.But with the addition of Syracuse and Pittsburgh last month, the ACC was able to reopen contract negotiations with ESPN. The ACC recently announced that it had begun talks to renegotiate the TV deal, although the current agreement — worth $155 million a year — is worth more than twice the annual amount of the previous contract.The current ACC TV deal pays each of the 12 conference members about $12.9 million a year, an amount that the new deal is expected to eclipse when it’s reached, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.The Big East’s current TV deal with ESPN is worth $216 million over six years and expires in 2012-13 for men’s basketball and 2013-14 for football. The Big East voted to turn down a contract offer from ESPN in May worth $1.4 billion over nine years after the Pac-12 signed a 12-year, $2.7 billion deal with Fox Sports and ESPN.‘I think what’s important to know is that there was a time where we had way more than the majority vote to accept that deal,’ Gross said in reference to Big East negotiations back in May.John Paquette, associate commissioner of the Big East, said conference members decided that it would be better to wait to reach an agreement with ESPN on the heels of the Pac-12 deal reached days earlier.‘I thought the deal could’ve been done prior, and it probably would’ve been the glue for the league really,’ Gross said. ‘I always feel like a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush. And I personally thought it was, at the worst, an ‘A-‘ type of deal.’Crouthamel, the former athletic director, believes the Big East members voted down the contract in May because they were hoping to get more money in light of the Pac-12 TV agreement.‘If they had known what the consequences were going to be, I think they would’ve accepted it then,’ he said.Conference distributionsIn the ACC, equal revenue sharing is ‘sacred,’ said ACC Commissioner John Swofford during a Sept. 18 teleconference. At the end of each year, the conference distributes shares to its members, splitting TV revenue equally among them.In the Big East, the revenue from the TV contract goes into the conference’s general pool. Each conference member receives one dispersal from the Big East for football and another for basketball. For football, TV money is put in the revenue pool along with money from bowl partners before it is distributed to Big East members.Unlike the ACC, some adjustments are made to the amounts given to each Big East member. The changes are based on the number of national television appearances a school makes, the distance a school has to travel for a bowl game and the prominence of the bowl a school attends.In 2009-10, Syracuse received $3.3 million from the Big East for football and $4.2 million for basketball.In the 2009-10 season, the football team went 4-8 in head coach Doug Marrone’s first year, and the men’s basketball team won the Big East regular-season title before losing to Butler in the Sweet 16.That same year, the Wake Forest football team was only a game better than the Orange at 5-7 and the basketball team made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. But the Demon Deacons received a distribution from the ACC of $10.8 million, according to the ACC’s most recent Internal Revenue Service Form 990 report. That was the lowest share of the conference’s 12 member schools.Though the ACC shares its revenue equally among its members, the amounts of shares differ on the 990 report because the form takes into account reimbursements to teams for the conference championship. TV revenue and postseason payouts, among other variables, are also included in the shares.The nearly $3.5 million difference between Wake Forest’s share and Syracuse’s share in 2009-10 can add up over time.‘If you take that $3.5 million and you times it by 10, you’re $30.5 million behind, right, as far as where they are and where they are resource-wise,’ Gross said. ‘So that’s significant, you know.’Of the Big East’s eight schools that compete in basketball and football, Syracuse had the lowest share at $7.5 million in 2009-10. The next lowest share was Louisville at $8.02 million. The Big East’s highest share was given to West Virginia at $10,427,259, still more than $400,000 less than the lowest share in the ACC.Gross said that equal revenue sharing in the ACC has its advantages and disadvantages.‘You want to be able to say, ‘This is what we know we can expect this year,” Gross said. ‘But what I applaud in the Big East was that it was a competitive deal. So if you finish first, you got rewarded for being first, and there was a structure like that.’For Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College in Massachusetts, equal revenue sharing is the better model — and not just because it offers more financial stability to members. Zimbalist said dividing revenue based on performance is inappropriate and goes against the amateur ideal of college sports.Zimbalist also knows that distribution models like the Big East’s allow for a dominant team to earn a larger share of its conference’s revenue.‘But it’s also possible that Syracuse could be a weaker team, even in the Big East or certainly in the ACC, so to have this security of an equal revenue sharing model is desirable,’ he said.Looking to the pastHistory proves that Syracuse’s entrance into the ACC — whenever that might be — will result in a larger payday.And it’s not necessary to look any further back than 2003, when Virginia Tech decided to leave the Big East for the ACC.Virginia Tech had its football and men’s basketball revenues jump about $4.56 million from its last year in the Big East in 2003-04 to its first year in the ACC in 2004-05. After losing about $232,000 from men’s basketball in 2003-04, Virginia Tech netted $3.17 million the following year as a member of the ACC. Football net revenue increased about $800,000, from $10.6 million as a member of the Big East to $11.4 million in its first year in the ACC.But Syracuse will also be confronted with more expenses when it makes the move.By switching conferences, many schools are confronted with additional travel expenses, Zimbalist said. But the ACC tries to schedule Olympic, nonrevenue sports with grouped games to limit the costs associated with travel. Gross said the ACC schedule will call for about a 100-mile travel difference for Syracuse.Rob Edson, former chief financial officer of athletics and senior associate athletic director at SU, said financial struggles are nothing new in college sports.‘It’s a challenge to keep up with the rise in costs, but that challenge has been there since I started in intercollegiate athletics more than 20 years ago, and it will probably be there long after I depart from intercollegiate athletics,’ said Edson, now the athletic director at Onondaga Community College.And those struggles and the search for financial stability are driving conference realignment around the country, said Crouthamel, the former athletic director.‘You got to do what you got to do — it’s a survival game,’ he said. ‘It’s not a fun game, it’s a survival game. And you got to do what is in your best interest at the time and then do it. And let the consequences come five, 10 years later — who knows what the consequences will be across the board.’jdharr04@syr.educenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

ACC : Gross profit: Led by athletic director, Syracuse joins financially stable situation in ACC

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