And the rich just keep getting richer. A lllllloooooot richer.
As the debate rages as to whether student-athletes in general and football players specifically are getting the short end of the financial stick, Alabama confirmed to the Sports Business Daily Monday that it has reached an agreement with Learfield Sports on a new multimedia rights deal. The website states that the new deal is worth at least $150-$160 million over the next 10 years.
For comparison’s sake, the Tide’s old deal with Learfield, which has been a media partner of the school’s since 1998, paid the athletic department in the neighborhood of $8 million. The total could actually go above the $15-$16 million annually as, unlike the old contract, revenue-sharing above the guaranteed money is included; that clause could add millions per year to UA’s coffers.
Athletic director Bill Battle took advantage of an opt-out clause to rework the contract with Learfield.
“A lot of things have changed since the last time we negotiated a deal,” Battle told the website. “This option gave us a chance to look around the marketplace and see how things look now versus five years ago. Alabama has been on a pretty good roll since then.”
One huge difference from Learfield’s perspective is that it will no longer have the third-tier rights to Tide football games; those rights now fall to the SEC Network, which will pour additional dollars into the coffers of Alabama and its 13 other conference mates.
On a national scale, the new deal puts Alabama in the neighborhood of the rarefied financial air previously reserved for Texas and Notre Dame. The former currently earns $25 million annually — $15 million of which comes from the Longhorn Network — for its multimedia rights while the latter, thanks in large part to its deal with NBC, is somewhere in the $25-$30 million-a-year range. The Tide did leapfrog both Georgia and Ohio State, which the SBD reports pulls in $11 million apiece on its multimedia rights packages.