Big Ten makes more money than any conference ever has — and Nebraska reaps the benefits

The Big Ten is rich. Really rich.

According to a recent report from USA Today, the league had nearly $759 million in revenue for the 2018 fiscal year. That’s the first year of the Big Ten’s new TV deal kicking in, and that figure dwarfs the Big Ten’s revenue from fiscal year 2017, which was $512.9 million.

No conference, according to the report, has ever made more.

Not the SEC, which made $660 million in revenue for fiscal year 2018. Not the Big 12, which made $374 million for its 10-team league. (Texas has its own sweet side deals that helped break up the league, as you may recall.)

Nebraska, along with 11 other Big Ten schools with a full share, got north of $50 million in its Big Ten payout.

As one of the few athletic departments nationwide that doesn’t need money from the academic side of its institution — in fact, Nebraska’s athletic department provides money for academic scholarships — NU was never in desperate need of such a payout. But the extra money won’t hurt for salaries, facilities and student-athlete amenities. Nebraska already offers full scholarship money for any incoming student-athlete who’s a part of the summer bridge program before their freshman year. The NCAA allows it and NU takes advantage.

But it’s a real boon to the schools in the conference that don’t enjoy Nebraska’s broad fan support. Northwestern is more of a darling among national media than it is among fans in Chicago, but it gets that $50 million-plus just as Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan do. That’s $20 million more per year than Washington State was projected to get by its own officials in the Pac-12 this year.

Over time, this money gap between the Big Ten and other leagues not named the SEC will accumulate. The league’s recruiting profile is already way up, and Northwestern and Purdue are retaining coaches that, a decade ago, would have been hard to keep.

At Nebraska, it may eventually help fund a massive, bordering-on-needed overhaul of football facilities that would include a stand-alone building that features best-of-the-best amenities. NU Athletic Director Bill Moos built one of those at Washington State. He has hinted at hoping to build one here, provided the money was there and the University of Nebraska Board of Regents approved.

As it is, the more money that comes in, the more flexibility there is for every school — including Nebraska.

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