John Canzano, the inimitable columnist for The Oregonian, has been chatting with some Pac-12 athletic directors, and while they aren't pleading poverty, they do want fans to know that the conference's broadcasting partners -- ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 Network -- aren't yet printing money for their departments.
That $21 or so million windfall that was so celebrated? Well, it's not all gravy. At least not yet.
... two conference athletic directors told me this week that most fans misunderstand how much new money is being infused. In part, because there are costs and also, the notion that you're giving up old money to get new money. Using data from two ADs who were very helpful I've pieced together an estimation of what the average Pac-12 institution might net on the new TV deal this year vs. old deal.
With the help of some ADs, he pencils out a guesstimate of what the average Pac-12 athletic department took in the first year of the new deals. He comes up with $4.3 million.
Not bad, but no one is $21 million flush.
Canzano then followed up after chatting with some folks at Oregon and found out that some of the richer conference athletic departments are sacrificing more because they were on TV more and benefited disproportionately from previous contracts:
Craig Pintens, Senior Associate Athletic Director, tells me that Oregon's number is even lower because previously they, along with USC, were among the conference leaders in television revenue. While Oregon State typically could count on about $6.5 million under the old deal, the Ducks and the Trojans were on television far more. That number, per Pintens, was closer to about $9 million.
Like Stanford and Oregon State with Learfield, the Ducks also had some marketing buyouts with IMG.
The bottom line for Oregon is closer to the $2 million to $3 million ballpark. In a $95 million budget, not exactly a windfall. The Ducks, and others, are fighting the perception that they have a boatload of new money under the deal, but they'd like you to know they're very happy, but not exactly ready to quit their jobs and move to Tahiti.
Canzano also adds this note, which has been the elephant in the room with derailed Pac-12 Network negotiations with DirectTV.
Further, the contract now resets all the Pac-12 Network carriage fees should the network agree to a deal with DirecTV that is below what others are currently paying. The others would get a lower negotiated rate that matches DirecTV. While I blame both sides, I'm now wondering if the conference's claim that DirecTV doesn't want to come to the table is really just the conference's way of saying they don't want to give up money already in the bank chasing wider distribution.
Of course, much of this is short-term pain. After buybacks and buyouts are transacted, the gross revenue for each department goes up. Also, the $21 million figure was averaged over 12 years of the contract, so it grows progressively.
Still, if you are wondering why your athletic department isn't yet gold-plating the cup-holders in the stadium -- or firing your struggling basketball coach -- this might help explain the present thriftiness.