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The SEC is paying out a record $40.9 million per school, and the Big Ten could pass it soon

The Big Ten is coming, thanks to recent TV deals.

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NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Alabama Celebration
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey at Alabama’s national championship parade.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The SEC generated approximately $596.9 million in total revenue in the fiscal year for 2016-17, which ended on Aug. 31, the conference said Thursday. That’s not a record, but the average school payout of $40.9 million is, passing up a $40.4 million average payout in the SEC the year before.

Most of that is money from the conference’s standard channels like TV deals, ticket sales, and the College Football Playoff. About $23 million is bowl game money that universities retained for themselves to pay expenses associated with those bowl games. It appears shares are standardized across the conference this year, which is a change:

The SEC is currently the per-team conference payout leader.

The most recent average payout for each Power 5 league:

Those are all rough figures, because the conferences have a bunch of little stipulations about how they distribute their money. Newer members sometimes don’t get the same shares older members get. Sometimes they get more, like in the case of Maryland, which once was fronted extra money from the Big Ten to cover an exit fee it had to pay when it departed the ACC. It’s all bureaucratic and complicated.

In 2015-16, six of the top 10 revenue-producing athletic departments in the country were in the SEC, according to an accounting by USA Today.

The Big Ten is coming for the SEC’s spot, though.

The B1G announced dueling new TV deals with broadcast partners ABC/ESPN and Fox in the summer of 2017. Those deals are worth a reported $2.64 billion to the league, and schools are expecting that they’re going to get way more money as a result. That’s a huge TV deal even by the standards of generally huge college sports TV deals. Most of the money in the deal is for football, though there’s a basketball component.

Conferences have never paid out that much money to schools before. If Michigan’s anticipated payout comes to pass for the rest of the league, the Big Ten’s going to pretty quickly pass up the SEC and everyone else in what it pays its schools.

The advent of the College Football Playoff has juiced conference payouts quickly. Playoff-related revenues can climb into the tens of millions per league, annually.