Big Ten revenue-sharing model could impact 9-game football discussion

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Scott Dochterman

CHICAGO — The Big Ten's revenue-sharing model for football gate revenue could impede efforts to add a ninth game to the annual league schedule.

Big Ten schools share 35 percent of all football gate revenue from league games with a $1 million per-game ceiling and a $300,000 per-game floor. Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State, all of which have stadiums exceeding 100,000 seats and most filled to capacity, always pay the $1 million per-game ceiling. Over four home Big Ten games, that's an annual contribution of $4 million.

Following the 2009 football season, each Big Ten school received $2.95 million in gate revenue-sharing. Six Big Ten football programs lost significant revenue because of revenue sharing: Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State (each lost $1.05 million), Iowa ($765,000), Wisconsin ($657,341) and Michigan State ($656,075). Schools who gained from gate revenue-sharing that year include: Northwestern ($1.71 million), Indiana (nearly $1.3 million), Minnesota ($896,704), Purdue ($785,650) and Illinois ($539,539).

Nebraska joins the league this fall and boasts a sold-out seating capacity exceeding 81,000. It likely will infuse close to $4 million into the Big Ten's revenue-sharing pot.

Boosting the league schedule from eight to nine games could be difficult financially for schools that lose money to Big Ten revenue-sharing. For schools like Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan, another league home game means another $1 million donation to the Big Ten pot. For non-conference games, those programs don't have to contribute to the league fund.

Most school administrators, including Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta, has deemed seven annual home football games as non-negotiable. But it's possible some schools might want an eighth home games to boost revenue. A nine-game Big Ten schedule could make that challenging.

The football revenue-sharing discussion could impact the league's basketball revenue-sharing model as well. Men's basketball programs send the Big Ten 25 percent of home gate revenue from league games with a $67,000 per-game ceiling and a $29,000 per-game floor. In 2009-10, Iowa was one of only three schools receiving more in revenue sharing than paying. Iowa took in $158,992, behind Northwestern ($214,647) and Penn State ($248,162). Losing the maximum of $86,597 were Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

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