While the academic side of the equation will certainly play some type of role if/when the Big Ten decides to expand, there’s no doubt that the overriding factor will be what can be gained financially.
In an excellent piece in this morning’s Chicago Tribune, writer Teddy Greenstein lays out the expansion economics, and puts into words exactly why the likes of Missouri, Nebraska, Rutgers et al are likely privately licking their chops in anticipation of an invite from the cash cow known as the Big Ten.
Currently, Greenstein reports, each individual Big Ten school receives roughly $22 million annually — $9 million from ABC/ESPN TV deals and $7-$8 million from the Big Ten Network, with the remaining $5 million coming from bowl revenue, NCAA men’s basketball tournament and licensing.
If the Big Ten finds the right combination of schools to add — no doubt Rutgers and the New York City market is part of that expanded television footprint plan — estimates have shown that television revenue could double by 2015-2016.
In other words, in just a few years, each school could be in line to receive upwards of $40 million simply because they are members of the Big Ten conference.
Forty. Million. Dollars. Annually.
Is the picture becoming clearer as to exactly why most schools — with the exception of Texas and Notre Dame — would be tripping over themselves to get to the head of the expansion line?
Of course, there’s the concern of diluting the product that’s currently making the conference money hand over fist right now, but that seems to be a risk Jim Delany and others are willing to take. Especially if they can get into that NYC market and pull in at least 15x — or more — the rights fees it currently collects from that area.