SEC business booming like never before

League will distribute $220M among its 12 members

DESTIN, Fla. - The least surprising news of the SEC spring meetings was announced Friday: The league made more money than ever.

The latest big number is $220 million, which the conference will disseminate amongst the 12 conference schools for the 2010-11 fiscal year. That's an average of $18.3 million per school.

The record-setting figure marks the 22nd consecutive year in which conference revenue has increased. It's also $11 million more than last year, an increase of 5.3 percent.

Most of the revenue comes from the lucrative, long-term television contracts the SEC negotiated with ESPN and CBS two years ago. This year's TV payout is $113 million.

The rest of the $220 million comes from bowls, $31.3 million; basketball television, $31.1 million; NCAA championships, $24.3 million; SEC football championship game, $15.3 million; SEC men's basketball tournament, $5 million.

There's even more money if you count the $14.3 million retained by teams that participated in bowls. And the NCAA provided another $780,000, which will be divided equally between the conference schools, for academic enhancement.

The SEC doesn't just benefit financially from the television deals.

"We had 415 televised events (via ESPN and CBS)," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said. "I'm very comfortable with the combination of distribution."

Slive is also comfortable with the flexibility in the television contracts.

"We have in our agreements a concept called 'look-ins,' where on a periodic basis we can sit down with our television partners and look in at our agreement.

"We can take stock. And if we need to make adjustments, we can."

As part of its revenue announcement, the conference included its annual money distribution since 1980. That also proves SEC business is booming like never before.

In 1980, the league distributed $4.1 million to 10 schools. It made almost eight times that much this year from the SEC championship game alone.

Costly Cowbells: Mississippi State fans can continue to shake their cowbells for at least another year. But if they shake them at the wrong time, it could be costly.

Slive said the league would fine Mississippi State $30,000 for violating the "cowbell rule," which was adopted last season,

And if there's another violation, it will cost Mississippi State $50,000.

Under the rule, Mississippi State fans are allowed to practice their long-standing tradition of ringing cowbells at home games, as long as they cease when the opposing offense advances to the line of scrimmage.

"They clearly violated the rule in the first two games last year," Slive said. "There was significant improvement after that."

The school was fined $5,000 for the first violation. The second one was $25,000.

Basketball Reshaped: As expected, the SEC approved a proposal to scrap divisional play in basketball and switch to a full-conference format for league scheduling and tournament seeding.

It's too late to change the conference schedule for next season, but the seeding will go into effect for the 2012 SEC tournament. The top four teams in the conference will receive a first-round bye.

Slive said the league would form a committee right away to determine future conference scheduling.

The commissioner favors an 18-game conference schedule.

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari said Tuesday that six SEC coaches wanted to take a look at a 22-game plan for conference play.

All Quiet: Expansion was a hot item at conference meetings throughout the country last year. It wasn't even discussed at this week's SEC meetings.

The Pac-10, Big Ten, Big East, Mountain West and WAC have all added teams in the last year. The SEC discussed the subject last year but stood pat.

"I will never say 'never,' " Slive said. "But when I go to work each morning, that's not on my plate.

"However, we will stay alert."

Not-So-Lucky 7: In response to a wave of national scrutiny, the SEC's presidents voted to ban its football coaches from being involved with seven-on-seven tournaments, both on campus or elsewhere.

The growing concern of third-parties interfering with the recruitment of prospective student athletes and swaying them to particular schools was the driving force behind the decision.

"There is concern in football, as well as in basketball, that there's been a creep," Slive said. "We think it's in our best interests to do what we can to stop it."

SEC associate director for compliance Greg Sankey said the decision mimics a recent NCAA decision that banned basketball coaches from hosting AAU events on campus or anywhere else.

Andrew Gribble contributed to this report.

John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 4

eb502us#225637 writes:

Lets use just a little of that 18M windfall to hire a new AD.

The joke named Mike Hamilton needs to go!!

ncvol17 writes:

Vandy scores in the only way they know how to, collecting undeserved $$$ from the SEC.

The 'can't win teams' win at the bank.That is why Vandy will stay in the league forever. GBO.

rockytopatl writes:

I bet those crappy Commodores take that money and put it into worthless stuff, like academics.

HoustonVol writes:

Vandy is in the league to stay. The SEC needs programs that do not strive to win football championships. With the big six, Ark and S.Caro, that leaves a lot of fan bases expecting a championship each year, and a lot of dissatisfied fans. So celebrate your Vandy's of the world. They might not bring much to the football plate, but they compete in every other sport in the top half of the conference. They earn their keep.

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