Business is booming in the Southeastern Conference.
On Thursday, the SEC announced its revenue distribution for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, 2019. In all, the conference brought in approximately $651 million in revenue, which was divided among its 14 member universities. That averages out to just over $44.6 million per school, an increase from the $43.1 million given out the previous year.
“The revenue distributed through the Southeastern Conference enables our 14 member universities to provide unparalleled support to their student-athletes through superior instruction, training, equipment, academic counseling, medical care, mental health and wellness support and life-skills development,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “It is this sustained conference-wide commitment to the student-athlete experience that makes this conference sound and its impact so meaningful.”
The SEC’s revenue is generated from television contracts, bowl games, the College Football Playoff and championships in all sports. This time around, $624.2 million came from the conference office while an additional $26.8 million was brought in by schools that made it to bowl games in the 2018-19 season.
“In addition to supporting the overall student-athlete experience, revenues generated through SEC athletics can contribute in significant ways to the academic missions of the Conference’s 14 universities,” Sankey said. “These distributions provide each university the opportunity to make a positive impact on their respective campuses in ways unique to each institution. Past uses of this revenue on our campuses have included participation in the construction and renovation of academic facilities, support of academic scholarship opportunities, funding of academic programs and direct transfers of funds to support academic budgets.”
SEC trailed Big Ten in 2018 fiscal year
The SEC, usually the leader of the pack in college sports revenue, trailed the Big Ten in the 2017-18 fiscal year. The Big Ten recorded nearly $759 million, according to USA Today. That figure was a record that far outpaced the conference’s prior earnings. The massive jump in cash flow came from the conference’s new television deals that came into effect.
The Big Ten distributed around $54 million to each of its 12 longest-tenured members while Maryland and Rutgers won’t receive their full revenue shares until 2020-21. The 2018 fiscal year marked the first time Nebraska received its full share after joining the Big Ten in 2011. Maryland and Rutgers joined the conference in 2014.
The Big Ten’s revenue figures usually don’t come out until spring, so we’ll have to wait to see which conference is leading the pack for 2018-19.
Nothing for the players
In its press release, the SEC made sure to point out that its massive revenue streams allow it to “provide unparalleled support” to student-athletes in the conference on top of scholarships and cost of attendance (which has been in place for four years). Schools also provide funds for “a wide range of academic and campus improvement initiatives, including academic scholarships, endowed faculty positions, student wellness programs, research programs, and forward-looking building projects.”
But, as we all know, none of that money works its way into the pockets of the athletes themselves. The NCAA says it is taking steps toward name, image and likeness compensation for student-athletes, but it only took seemingly proactive steps after pressure from lawmakers around the country.
The NCAA knows the pressure is on, even though it remains staunchly opposed to anything that could even closely resemble “pay-for-play.” But with the amount of money generated by college athletes continually on the rise, it’s getting much harder for the NCAA to try to preach the virtues of “amateurism.”
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