Happy Wednesday, dear readers, and welcome back to another edition of SporticoU—complete with another wild weekend of college football and another $250,000 LSU field-storming fine to boot. (Though, to be fair, knocking off Bama in OT would probably get just about any crowd going, even if they aren’t as dominant this year as they have been as of late.) While Greg Sankey contemplates how to stop “post-game spectator incursion on competition fields and courts” in the SEC, and both Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney lick their wounds and mourn the likely loss of playoff slots (hey, the CFP pays), the college sports calendar marches on with the start of the basketball season.
Only 123 days until March Madness. Too soon for a countdown? Too bad.
Before we get there, we have a lot of regular-season hoops to get through. Something that has always fascinated me about basketball is its rare positioning as a sport with men’s and women’s teams of relatively similar size with relatively similar schedules and travel requirements—at least in college—and the same needs in terms of equipment and facilities. It’s a college sports comparison unicorn, if you will. Last year, I dove into some of the numbers that I thought were worth revisiting here as we start another season.
$20.6 million—that was the disparity in travel-related expenses between men’s and women’s basketball teams at public Power 5 institutions (plus UConn, because, well, it’s basketball) during the 2020 fiscal year, which captured the 2019-20 pre-pandemic winter basketball season. Meal expenses? Similar deal. Even equipment expenses—for teams playing the! same! sport!—were typically higher for men’s teams.
While some schools do have large differences in roster size (for example, Nebraska listed 20 athletes on its men’s basketball team and 13 on its women’s during FY20), most roster sizes were comparable, if not even. What I’m saying is, the differences in the number of bodies accounted for in these figures alone don’t account for some of the huge gaps in spending between two teams playing the same game. Food for thought as this season gets underway.
Since we last chatted, the Big 12 also made a big splash. A six-year, $2.28 billion extension with ESPN and Fox is not too shabby for a conference that recently articulated fears of a dramatic drop in the value of its next TV deal given that Oklahoma and Texas are soon departing. Securing a serious pay bump for each of its member schools without the conference’s two biggest fish is a huge win for new boss Brett Yormark.
What also stands out here: this is definitely not the Big Ten’s new seven-year, $7+ billion deal, or anywhere close to the similarly astounding sum the SEC will earn for its media rights starting in 2024. No one expected the Big 12 deal to be as big as those, but it is a rather apt snapshot of the growing financial gaps between the current Power 5 and the seemingly inevitable Power 2.
Speaking of the Big 12 … TCU at Texas, anyone? Who ya got?
Oh, and please enjoy this photo of BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe as Yoda.