Expansion to the Pac-12 has brought the issue of TV dollars to the forefront of conversation these days. It's painfully obvious that the Pac-10 is being compensated like a league that isn't in the BCS with their current contract. Washington State pulled in 6.3 million dollars in 2009. Indiana University of the Big Ten pulled in 20 million dollars because they split revenue equally and becasue the Big Ten Commissioner is actually competent at his job. Retired Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen (UW grad) clearly was not.
Our current TV contract runs through the end of the 2011 season. In other words, we must endure our crap contract for two more football seasons. The pain is going to be compounded for WSU this year since we won't be very good. We might actually be closer to $5.5 million in TV revenue this season since we don't get the Notre Dame payout that we got last year. That's still better than the University of Utah which will have to deal with about 1.5-2 million dollars because of the Mountain West's contract with Versus. No wonder they are anxious to split as quickly as possible.
Ever wonder how the Pac-10 TV contract works? There has been a lot of talk about Big XII unequal revenue sharing and Pac-10 equitable revenue sharing. We know that the Pac-10 doesn't have revenue sharing across the board like the Big Ten. Jon Wilner has a fantastic explanation of how it works here . Basically there is a minimum amount that each team is guaranteed. That's the floor and then each game that's picked up thereafter for television basically gets you a bonus check. That's why USC was at close to 12 million last year and WSU sat at 6 million. I have no idea what the Pac-10 "floor" is but it would be interesting to know.
Things get really fascinating for WSU in 2011. University of Utah is on record as saying they are moving to the Pac-10 next year. Colorado had originally planned on 2012 as well. However, those plans are in flux now. What does all that mean for TV revenue splits?
Ted Miller had a really interesting blog post that told us Colorado and Utah are coming in as UNequals. Colorado will be a full revenue sharing member but Utah will not get 100% of their Pac-10 share until the 2014-2015 season.
Here are the two implications for WSU:
In 2011, it could be a really poor TV revenue year for WSU. If we assume that Utah will only get a 25% share of the TV dollars AND Colorado enters early then we are talking about feeding 1.25 more schools under the last year of our crap contract. We probably won't have many early selection TV games that year either based on the likelihood that we'll finish in the bottom third of the Pac-10 this year.
I'm sure Bill Moos is all over this and Larry Scott evens states that there is work to be done in ironing out the details. I don't think any of the current ten would blink an eye at paying out a quarter share to Utah next year but a full share to Colorado as well would probably make most pause. If the worst case scenario plays out and both join in 2011 then we probably lose out on about a million dollars of TV revenue. Sadly, that would be about 15-20% of our TV revenue. So, it will be a belt tightening year in 2011. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Bill Moos is allowed to run in the red (at a loss for the department) and pay it back in 2012 because we are in for a party just one year later.
In 2012, it promises to be a really nice financial year for us. First, the football team is tracking to that being a breakout year. As explained above, if you are good you get more money in the Pac-10. Who knows if they'll keep that structure with the new TV contract but let's assume that it does. Second, the new Pac-12 TV contract kicks in and if you assume the improved football team, a championship game, the addition of the Qwest game versus Oregon or Oregon State, and the fact that Utah will only get a 50% share of TV revenue in 2012 then you are looking at Washington State pulling in around 14-15 million dollars. So, you're looking at an increase of about 10 million dollars in revenue for WSU in one year.
Want to know what that sort of money would mean to WSU? Outside of basketball and football we spend about 250-300K on operating expenses for our non-revenue generating sports. We would be able to DOUBLE every one of those sports operating budgets. We spend 8 million a year on football. We would be able to bump that up to 11 million. We spend just under 3 million on men's basketball and we could amp that to 5 million without blinking an eye. That would STILL leave us with a little more than a million dollars to improve the athletic department back office. That means charters for the basketball team, home games against Texas A&M or Virginia Tech for football, pay raises for Matt Potter in women's soccer and Andrew Palileo in women's volleyball and keeping them in Pullman, regional or super regional hosting for Donnie Marbut's baseball squad, and improved equipment for every single sport. 2012 is going to be a big deal for WSU.
In August, Bill Moos will lay out his vision for the future. It will include facilities (likely a close to 40 million dollar football only facility), scheduling plans, athletic department re-structuring, and a re-invigorated push for donations at all levels. By his own admission, he believes he's got 24 months to really begin to deliver on what he's selling. The man's timing couldn't be better. He'll be able to plan towards a time when he'll have unprecedented revenue to work with and more WSU coverage than we've ever had. 2012 promises to be a pivotal year in determining whether we can become a Nebraska type school or whether we will be closer to Iowa State.