Maryland, Rutgers will need big TV money

All of the buzz surrounding the announcement of Maryland's and Rutgers' moves to the Big Ten focuses on the increased television revenue each will receive, and rightly so, because their athletic departments need every penny.

Last year, the Big Ten distributed $24.6 million to each member, with the exception of newcomer Nebraska, which received about $14 million. By contrast, under the new ACC media rights deal, schools are expected to each average $17 million per year. The most recent IRS Form 990 filed by the Big East for 2011 showed Rutgers receiving $8.2 million.

Sports Illustrated reported Monday that Big Ten schools could see up to $43 million annually starting in 2017 from a new TV deal –- that’s nearly twice what Big Ten schools now receive. Maryland and Rutgers, if the past is an indicator, will need the funds more than their new conference partners, because they lack revenue in some key areas other Big Ten teams don’t.

The most significant? Money from donors.

In 2010-11, Maryland reported just $86,113 in contributions to the football program. Rutgers, which has not yet officially joined the Big Ten, reported $1.1 million. Public Big Ten schools each averaged $5.5 million, not including Wisconsin, which did not attribute any money directly to football. Nationally, contributions at public FBS schools attributed to football averaged $4.4 million.

Schools have some discretion in classifying contributions to individual sports. Maryland had more than $10 million unattributed to any individual sport, but the grand total of $10.5 million in athletic department contributions pales in comparison to what most schools receive for football alone.

Michigan and Ohio State, two of the largest programs in the country financially, reported contributions to the football program of $22.4 million and $15.1 million, respectively. To put that into perspective, Maryland’s total football revenue ($12.1 million) was less than Michigan and Ohio State received from contributions alone. Rutgers’ total football revenue came in only slightly higher at $19.5 million.

The athletic departments at Maryland and Rutgers have not been exactly winners.

Both depended on student fees and direct institutional support to get close to balancing their 2010-11 budgets. Maryland finished $473,482 in the hole despite $9.5 million in student fees and $6.4 million in institutional support. Rutgers needed $9 million in student fees and $19.4 million in institutional support to break even.

Big Ten members like Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State showed net profits in the athletic department of $10.9 million, $9.5 million and $14.8 million, respectively. Michigan spends nearly twice as much on football as Maryland. Ohio State spends three times more. Maryland and Rutgers won’t be the only Big Ten members dwarfed by those institutions, however. Purdue, for example, spends approximately the same amount as Maryland.