Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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SEC revenue shows there’s plenty of money to pay players


Alabama is just one of the teams that helped make the SEC $800 million last year.

Alabama is just one of the teams that helped make the SEC $800 million last year.
Image: Getty Images

The amount of money made off college athletes in this country is insane.

According to a recent report, the SEC brought in $777.8 million during the fiscal year of 2020-2021, which is $120.1 million more than the conference made in 2019-2020. SEC schools will each receive a payout of around $54.6 million.

The haters will say that scholarships and the money that some athletes are making off NIL deals are enough. But, when you see numbers like this you quickly realize just how ridiculous that argument is.

The news about the SEC’s payday was reported in the same week in which Sports Business Journal predicted that the Big Ten could be on the verge of signing an annual $1 billion deal for its next media rights contract. The Big Ten is currently making $440 a year from FOX and ESPN, but those contracts end in 2022-2023, and CBS and NBC are rumored to be willing to double the conference’s payday. Last season’s Michigan/Ohio State game was the most-watched college football game in FOX’s history.

For perspective, here were the revenues for the Power Five in fiscal 2019:

• Big 12: $439 million — payouts ranged between $38 million and $42 million.

• ACC: $455.4 million — payouts ranged between $27.6 million to $34 million.

• SEC: $721 million — payouts were near $45.3 million.

• Big Ten: $781.5 million — payouts of $55.6 were made to the 12 longest-standing members of the 14-team conference.

• PAC-12: $530.4 million — payouts were $32.2 million.

In total, the Power Five pulled in more than $2.9 billion in combined revenue for their 2019 fiscal year.

If those numbers weren’t mind-blowing enough, we’re less than a month away from Selection Sunday and the start of the Men’s NCAA Tournament, which is the NCAA’s cash cow as it’s responsible for over 90 percent of the “nonprofit’s” annual revenue.

Due to the cancellation of the 2020 tournament, the NCAA and its member schools lost $800 million — which is why the 2021 tournament was certain to happen despite a pandemic as the NCAA wasn’t going to miss out on that kind of payday two years in a row. In 2021, the NCAA made more than $1.15 billion in revenue, topping the $1.12 billion it made in 2019. Of that billion-plus revenue made in 2021, $613 million of it went to its members which was a huge increase compared to the $246 million that went out in 2020.

Again, the overwhelming majority of this money is made by teenagers that play football on Saturdays and young men that participate in an annual basketball tournament in March.

Only in America could an unpaid workforce bring in that type of money every year and not see any of it. In fact, the NCAA had to almost be forced to agree to NIL, which is a system that allows the NCAA and their members to keep the money as outside entities are the ones paying the athletes.

This is why college athletes need a union.

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