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. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard


    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day


    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.