Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott will hold a press conference Thursday to announce, among other things, how the conference will be divided into two six-team divisions upon the arrival of Utah and Colorado in 2011.
One of those other things, however, may actually be more important to the vast majority of schools — how the league will divvy up conference revenues. And, according to at least one report, two schools will make out better in the revenue distribution than their league brethren, at least initially.
According to Bud Withers of the Seattle Times, and citing sources familiar with recent discussions, conference presidents and chancellors will vote during their San Francisco meetings this week on a proposal that would give both USC and UCLA an additional $2 million annually above what the other schools in the conference will receive.
Those extra payouts would continue until the combined broadcast revenues reach a certain threshold, probably, Withers writes, in the range of $130 million to $170 million annually. Currently, the combined yearly revenues for football and basketball come in at around $53 million.
The Pac-10 currently lags far behind the SEC/Big Ten and their $200 million-a-year , license-to-print-money deals, but there is good news on the horizon for the conference. The conference’s current deal was negotiated three years before the other two financial powerhouses did their latest, and they will begin talks on new contracts shortly as the current ones expire next year.
There’s little doubt that the conference will far exceed their take from the last deal, but by how much remains to be seen. The additions of the Denver and Salt Lake City television markets shoulder bolster the Pac-10’s value, not to mention the fact that, back in May, the ACC reached an agreement with ESPN/ABC that will pay the conference an average of $155 million annually in combined football/basketball deals. Certainly the Pac-10 could approach if not exceed the ACC’s number.
We’ve been hearing for months now that both FOX Sports and perhaps another media entity would/will make a serious push for the Pac-10/12’s broadcast rights, so a bidding war could push the conference to the outer fringes of what the SEC and Big Ten are pulling in. Of course, ESPN should not be counted out, either, which could further drive up the price.
Regardless, given the current market for televised sports, it appears that the proposal being bandied about that would give the two Southern California additional revenues may be short-lived if approved, if it’s even necessary at all.