Bowl Matters: Big Ten Bowl Games and Revenue Sharing

Dec. 15, 2003

Bowl Championship Series…Rose Bowl…Fiesta Bowl…Sugar Bowl…Orange Bowl…conference champions….conference runner-up…first pick…second pick…

A Big Ten record nine teams are going bowling this year, headed by Iowa, Purdue, Ohio State and Michigan, who are participating in either January 1 games or Bowl Championship Series events.

Perhaps the only thing more confusing about the college football bowl season other than the selection process of teams for the individual games is the “payout” figures assigned to each game and how the participating institutions spend that money.

Most fans of college football probably assume when they read that “XYZ football team will receive $W.B million for its participation in the YYT Bowl” that the institution – or, more specifically, that institution’s athletic department – receives a check in that amount.

This is undoubtedly true in some cases across the country, but not so at the University of Iowa or at institutions that are a member of the Big Ten Conference. In fact, the Big Ten is very unique in its approach to post-season college football receipts and that uniqueness is a good thing for all 11 institutions in the league.

In the Big Ten, teams are provided a budget with which to operate its post-season bowl game travel policy. The University of Iowa will be provided a budget of $1.3 million by the Big Ten Conference for its participation in the 2004 Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 1.

“The Big Ten’s approach is quite unique and is very much in keeping with the league’s tradition of revenue sharing and of sharing prosperity. It’s another example of how the Big Ten differs quite dramatically from other intercollegiate athletic conference across the country.”
UI Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby

The difference between the budget and the payout of approximately $2.5 million for participation the 2004 Outback Bowl is retained by the Conference, pooled with the balance of the payouts for the other bowl games involving Big Ten teams, totaled, and divided into 12 equal shares, one each for each of the 11 institutions in the league and one share for the league office.

“The Big Ten’s approach is quite unique and is very much in keeping with the league’s tradition of revenue sharing and of sharing prosperity. It’s another example of how the Big Ten differs quite dramatically from other intercollegiate athletic conference across the country,” said UI Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby.

Bowlsby said the league’s post-season bowl game policies also have the added benefit of (a) requiring those institutions who are fortunate enough to participate in a post-season bowl game to do so within a budget and (b) to provide financial support to those institutions who do not advance to post-season play.

“Both benefits of the policies are important, but the latter might be the most important because it speaks to the real strength of the Big Ten. It is clearly one of the reasons why nine different schools have represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl during the last two decades,” said Bowlsby.

“A second Big Ten team involved in a Bowl Championship Series game provides a significant boost to the conference and the member institutions in several ways including additional national recognition of the second team in particular and the league as a whole as a result of the media attention provided the BCS and the bowl game.”
UI Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby

“Our approach works to minimize charges of the ‘Strong getting stronger’ as a result of post-season bowl game participation and, instead, offers opportunities for those who are on the sidelines.”

Bowlsby said income from the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten’s other bowl games is built into the annual operations budget of all 11 of the league’s athletic departments as a result of long-term contracts that guarantee payouts. He said the only real “new” opportunity for the Big Ten and its member institutions annually comes as a result of having a second Big Ten team advance into the annual Bowl Championship Series.

The Big Ten is guaranteed one participant in the BCS program annually, typically as the league’s representative in the Rose Bowl. This year, however, two league teams – Michigan and Ohio State – will participate in BCS games.

“A second Big Ten team involved in a Bowl Championship Series game provides a significant boost to the conference and the member institutions in several ways including additional national recognition of the second team in particular and the league as a whole as a result of the media attention provided the BCS and the bowl game. And, of course, the league’s bowl revenue sharing program also experiences a bump up,” said Bowlsby.

Bowlsby said it is important to note that the “bump up” is approximately $200,000 per school – a significant amount of money but certainly not the $10, $11 or $12 million that fans read and hear. “Again, that’s the Big Ten’s philosophy of revenue sharing coming into play to the benefit of all, not just one,” he said.

So, the next question asked by the run-of-the-mill fan is another “seems simple but it isn’t” one: “Is it really that expensive to participate in a post-season college football bowl game?” The answer is a simple, “Yes.”

Where does the money go? Lots of different places, most notably…

– The cost of two charter airplanes, one for the coaches, student-athletes, support staff and other representatives of the University of Iowa, and another primarily for the UI Marching Band, Herky and the spirit squads.

– The cost of hotel rooms and meals for the coaches, student-athletes, support staff, other representatives of the University of Iowa, including the members of the UI Marching Band, Herky and the spirit squads.

– The cost of meeting room and office space in the official hotel for the University of Iowa and the rental cost for the team’s practice facilities in Tampa.

– The cost of game tickets for game-day guests of eligible student-athletes, coaches, support staff and other representatives of the University of Iowa.

“To the lay person, it seems like an incredibly large amount of money and it is, but the fact is it is very expensive to relocate an entire football team and its support staff and support operation for up to 10 days. As always, it goes without staying, that we work hard to accomplish all that has to be accomplished as efficiently as we possibly can,” said Bowlsby.

Bowlsby said the priorities of every staff member involved in post-season planning and execution are straightforward. “First, we do everything within reason to provide our coaches and student-athletes the best opportunity for success on game day,” he said.

“Second, we work to make the time away from preparation for the game for the coaches and student-athletes as enjoyable as possible and, three, we work to accomplish No. 1 and No. 2 as efficiently and fiscally responsible as possible and in such a way that reflects positively on the University of Iowa, our athletics program and its representatives, and the Big Ten Conference.”

The Big Ten and Bowl Games

Rose Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $1.8 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $12 million

Fiesta Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $1.65 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $12 million

Sugar and Orange Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $1.55 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $12 million

Capital One Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $1.3 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $5 million

Outback Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $1.3 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $2 million

Alamo Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $1.3 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $1.35 million

Sun Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $1.3 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $1.25 million

Music City Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $750,000 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $750,000 million

Motor Bowl
Big Ten’s bowl budget: $750,000 million
Projected bowl payout: In excess of $750,000 million