Pac-12 schools each received $14M less in 2020-21, thanks to shortened football season

·2 min read

We now know just how much the shortened 2020 football season impacted the Pac-12’s financials.

The conference released its 2020-21 financial results on Friday and said that each of its 12 member schools received just under $20 million for the year from the conference’s $344 million in revenue. That’s down from approximately $34 million per school the year before.

Per the Pac-12, the decrease was “primarily a result of decreases in media rights and postseason bowl revenues due to game cancellations, lower event revenue from no fans, and higher costs associated with COVID-19 health and safety protocols and testing.”

The Pac-12 was the last major conference to start its 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and had the shortest season. UCLA and Oregon State were the only teams that played seven games and four teams — Colorado, Arizona State, Washington State, and California — only played four games because of COVID-19 cancellations.

The conference said that it had an approximately $6.3 million surplus between its revenues and expenses for the season. According to USA Today, the Pac-12 Network had an operating deficit for the season because there were far fewer games to televise.

The Pac-12’s announcement isn’t all that surprising given how football is the primary driver of conference television contracts and payouts to schools. Fewer football games mean less money from the networks that televise them.

That’s how the SEC ended up having more revenue in 2020-21 than it did in 2020-19. Teams in the SEC played 10 conference games in 2020 — up from eight in normal seasons — and the increase in conference games led to more television money. The SEC’s total revenue increased to $833 million in 2020-21.

In addition to the Pac-12, the Big 12 and Big Ten also saw their revenues and payouts to schools decrease in 2020-21 according to USA Today.

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  A high angle detail view of the Pac-12 logo on the field at Stanford Stadium before an NCAA football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Stanford Cardinal on November 27, 2021 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
Pac-12 schools got less money in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)