Pac-12 releases fiscal report for 2018-19

Revenue up slightly, but league still trails peers

TEMPE, AZ – DECEMBER 07: Pac-12 Commissioner, Larry Scott speaks at a press conference before the Pac 12 Championship game between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Stanford Cardinal at Sun Devil Stadium on December 7, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Pac-12 Conference released a glowing assessment of its annual financial report on Friday.

And, indeed, the numbers for the 2018-19 fiscal year showed encouraging progress for a league that has consistently lagged behind its Power 5 brethren in generating revenue. How that will help the league survive the devastating financial hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be seen.

For the 2018-19 fiscal year, the Pac-12 reported total revenue of $530 million and total distribution revenue of $387 million, equating to $32.2 million for each of the dozen league members. That still significantly trails three of the other Power 5 leagues in member payouts, with the Big Ten leading the way with about $55.6 million dispensed per school for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

The SEC is next at about $45 million per school, followed by the 10-team Big 12 at around $40 million per school. The ACC, which has 14 members for football and 15 for men’s and women’s basketball, comes in at an average of around $31 million per school.

The Pac-12’s totals for 2018-19 represent a seven percent increase in total revenue and a nine percent increase in dispersal revenue from the previous fiscal year, which the league attributed to an increase in media rights and football postseason bowl income (seven Pac-12 teams played in bowl games in the 2018 season).

Also of note in the report was that the Pac-12 Networks, which is the only conference network solely owned and operated by the league, operated at a slight net loss in 2018-19, with total operating expenses reported at $123,796,613 balanced against a total revenue mark of $123,360,585. With the league, along with the rest of the NCAA, already reeling from the loss of the canceled NCAA basketball tournaments in March, the network side of the conference’s operations is likely to take a huge hit if the upcoming football season is compromised.

That scenario gradually is becoming a sobering reality. On Thursday, the Big Ten announced it was cancelling all of its nonconference games for all fall sports — including two marquee football matchups for Pac-12 programs with Ohio State set to visit Oregon and Michigan scheduled to visit Washington. The ACC also announced its Olympic sports schedule will not begin until at least Sept. 1, and both announcements arrived on the heels of the Ivy League deciding it will not play any of its fall sports until at least Jan. 1.

In a statement released by the Pac-12 on Friday, Oregon president Michael Schill, the chair of the Pac-12 CEO group, reiterated the league is continuing to work on plans to allow the football season and all other fall sports to resume on schedule, though that reality is becoming less likely every day as the coronavirus numbers continue to spike across the country.

“The Pac-12 CEO Group is committed to continuing to serve our student-athletes and educational mission through these challenging times,” said Schill.  “We are working closely with Commissioner Scott to explore all options for the successful launch of athletics in the coming school year provided that we can do so in a safe and prudent manner.”