CHART: Bowls Games Are A Huge Cash Cow For Big Conference Schools

Despite the perception that many schools lose money travelling to bowl games, that is just not the case according to a recent NCAA audit obtained by

Every year there are reports that schools spend more on travel than what they make playing in a bowl game. However, during the 2012-13 bowl season, $US300.8 million was distributed to schools while the schools reported spending just $US90.3 million on travel.

The disconnect comes from how the money is distributed. The payouts from bowl games go to the conferences and not directly to the schools. The conference then pools together all their bowl game revenue and distributes that to all the schools in the conference. In some cases the money is distributed evenly and in other conferences, more money goes to schools that play in the games.

Here is how that money was distributed to the conferences last year and how much each conference spent on bowl game expenses (cont. below).

The SEC alone turned a $US37.5 million profit while the other five BCS conferences all netted at least $US25 million for their schools. Meanwhile, even the small conferences brought in more than they spent, although in some cases it was a very small profit.

And those profits will jump higher next year when ESPN’s new $US470 million per year contract to broadcast the college football playoff begins. ESPN is currently paying just $US155 million per year to broadcast the BCS games.

So while one particular school may spend more on travel than the payout from a bowl game, that school will also receive a cut of the payouts from all the bowl games their conference plays in. And in the biggest conferences, those payouts can be quite large and are going to get bigger.

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