Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

SEC expansion ultimately boils down to one factor: money

In the months since the SEC invited Missouri and Texas A&M to join, there have been pep rallies, lots of fanfare and plenty of talk by coaches and administrators about how they will bring not only competitive excellence, but educational excellence.

What's mostly unspoken — publicly at least — is what SEC expansion is really about: money.

That is, extending its brand beyond the eight states it already dominates and, in turn, generating more revenue — particularly through television.

"We feel adding Texas A&M and Missouri has strengthened us in lots of ways," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "But it certainly strengthened us in television."

Four years ago, the league entered into a then-groundbreaking 15-year agreement with ESPN worth an average of $150 million annually as well as a deal with CBS that averages $55 million a year.

But since then, the Big Ten has established its own network — the first launched exclusively for one conference — that in 2011 generated $242 million in revenue, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And the Pac-12 negotiated a 12-year deal with Fox and ESPN for $250 million annually in addition to creating its own network that launches Aug. 15.

Now Slive hopes expansion will allow him to do what he does best: capitalize at the most opportune time.

The SEC's current deals with CBS and ESPN allow talks to be reopened only if the conference expanded.

And with Texas A&M and Missouri bringing in new TV markets — including top-25 ones in Dallas, Houston and St. Louis — negotiations have begun that reportedly include an SEC Network cable channel that could be a reality in as few as two years.

Slive is keeping what's being discussed close to the vest.

"We're talking with our television partners about our television future," he said at the SEC meetings in May. "That's what I'll say for now."

For the SEC schools, much is at stake.

A record $241.5 million was distributed among the 12 schools in May, an average of $20.1 million. That represented a 9.8 percent increase from the $219.9 million in 2010-11. Of that, $116.6 million was derived from football television.

In June, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley told University Athletic Association board members a highly supportive fan base has helped keep the Gators afloat financially during tough economic times but acknowledged other factors have helped.

"We're fortunate to have a lucrative television deal in our league that is extremely beneficial to our members, and that factors into our budget," Foley said. "And we're blessed that it's a deal that's in place for a significant amount of time."

Florida's president, Bernie Machen, has said SEC officials are convinced there is more demand for their product than is currently being met.

While Slive is well aware the negotiating landscape has changed, just how much value has been gained by adding Texas A&M and Missouri remains to be seen.

"We believe there's certainly significant added value for a lot of reasons," Slive said. "Once we complete these negotiations, we'll know (the full impact)."

Antonya English can be reached at

. fast facts

The series

Check out all five stories at

. TUESDAY: How new members Missouri and Texas A&M are preparing for life in the SEC.

. WEDNESDAY: Missouri and Texas A&M bring unique offenses to the SEC's most high-profile sport, football.

. THURSDAY: Two new basketball programs could help the league's chances of becoming more of a national power.

. FRIDAY: Football and men's basketball get the attention in the expansion process. But for other sports, the reality is it's a lot harder to travel from Gainesville to College Station in the middle of the week when you don't have a charter plane and police escort.

. TODAY: The bottom line of expansion? Money. Adding major new markets in Missouri and Texas puts the SEC on course to start its own cable network, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in subscription fees perhaps as soon as 2014.

SEC expansion ultimately boils down to one factor: money 07/13/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 14, 2012 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Rangers game

    The Heater

    Judging by those who were asking for them before Saturday's giveaways, those who tried to get an extra one or two once inside the Trop and those who quickly slipped theirs on before finding their seats, the DJ Kitty Onesie might be the Rays' most popular giveaway. Ever.

  2. Rays vs. Rangers, 1:10 p.m. Sunday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Today: vs. Rangers

    1:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Florida; 620-AM, 760-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Pitcher Jake Odorizzi #23 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait at Charlotte Sports Park during photo day on February 26, 2014 in Port Charlotte, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
  3. Gators pick up commitment from 5-star QB Matt Corral


    Florida has picked up a major commitment toward its 2018 recruiting class, getting a pledge Saturday night from quarterback Matt Corral, rated a five-star recruit by Rivals and Scout.

  4. Warren Sapp has firsthand advice as Bucs try to toughen up


    TAMPA — It was a molten morning, surface of Mercury, on the football field at Skyway Park, near Tampa International Airport. Bucs Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp was working with some Bucs defensive linemen. HBO Hard Knocks crews followed them. Training camp was a week away. Sapp pointed to Bucs …

    Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp made it clear as a rookie that he wasn’t backing down from anyone, mixing it up with the Dolphins during summer scrimmages. [Times file]
  5. Rays Tales: With Rays surprising buyers, a look back at previous deadline deals

    The Heater

    The buildup to this July 31 trading deadline is different for the Rays, for the rudimentary reason that they are working — feverishly, from what we hear — to add on to a team they feel has a legitimate chance to make a playoff run.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) throws a strike to open up the first inning of the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.