SEC Network money helping teams pay football, hoops coaches big bucks
Alabama athletic director Bill Battle hopped on a plane to Wichita, Kan., on Monday, attempting to woo Shockers coach Gregg Marshall with enormous stacks of cash.
We’re talking at least $3 million per year, perhaps for six seasons, according to CBS Sports. To coach basketball for the Crimson Tide.
It wasn’t long ago that Alabama smashed the record for biggest college football contract in prying Nick Saban from the Miami Dolphins with an eight-year, $32 million deal in 2007. That’s less than $1 million what the Tide is offering a hot mid-major hoops coach less than a decade later.
Three years ago, Mississippi State hired basketball coach Rick Ray at $1 million per season for four years. Last week, the Bulldogs signed new coach Ben Howland — four years, $8.2 million.
The SEC never has lacked for cash. But SEC programs now are willing to throw money at basketball coaches that they wouldn’t have even offered to football coaches 10 years ago. Will Muschamp and John Chavis are getting paid something like $1.6 million — as assistant football coaches.
There’s strong evidence to believe that an influx of cash from the newly-formed SEC Network is responsible.
Each SEC program reportedly will receive in excess of $5 million additional revenue dollars in May due to the TV network. That’s according to South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner, who revealed that number in February when meeting with the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee. If that figure holds, each school will receive more than $26 million in revenue distribution in a few weeks.
Fox Sports called SEC Network “the most successful sports television launch in cable and satellite TV history” and “one of the biggest game changers in the history of college athletics.” The site estimated that each SEC school could rake in $40 million in TV revenue per year starting in 2017, the third year of the SEC Network. That’s including existing payouts from CBS and ESPN.
The creation of the College Football Playoff also has been a boon to the power conferences in terms of revenue, but the creation of conference networks, as Fox mentioned, has changed the landscape. That’s what happens when you reach a reported 75 million households with your channel its first day live on the air. Another analyst within the broadcasting industry, Todd Juenger of Sanford C. Bernstein, estimated the channel soon could be worth $3 billion.
The ACC should see a similar boost with the launch of its own network in 2016. The Pac-12 and particularly the Big Ten already are enjoying the perks of huge TV revenue. But the SEC Network appears on course to shatter any and all conservative revenue projections. The Big 12 will be at an economic disadvantage, and even the Pac-12 and ACC could struggle to keep up.
We’ve already seen the price tag for head football coaches skyrocket in the SEC. It only makes sense that high-profile coordinators and head basketball coaches would be next. (OK, we know John Calipari signed a seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension in June. But Kentucky does basketball differently.)
The upshot is that if your football or basketball coach isn’t performing well, even if you’re a lower-tier SEC program, you should be able to throw Scrooge McDuck’s money bin at hot, previously-unobtainable coaches to ride to town on a river of gold bullion and save the day.