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Monday, February 10, 2014
Nebraska's B1G payday is still coming

By Brian Bennett

Nebraska has played in the Big Ten for three seasons now, but membership does not have total financial privileges.

We've known for a while that the Huskers aren't receiving a full share of league revenue until 2017. Now, thanks to some fine reporting by the Omaha World-Herald, we have a better idea of just how much Big Ten money Nebraska is receiving.

The paper reports that the school's payouts from the league totaled $14 million in its first year of membership, $15 million in Year 2 and no more than $16.9 million this year. That's about $10 million less than a full share each year.

That revenue is still much higher than the $9 million Nebraska earned in its final year of the Big 12. However, the Big 12 has since renegotiated its TV contract, and Big 12 schools received about $22 million each last year. The Huskers, in fact, made less than most schools in the power five conferences.

Compare that to Maryland, an incoming Big Ten member which will reportedly have its deal front-loaded and receive as much as $32 million from the league next year, and it seems as if Nebraska got a raw deal. But school chancellor Harvey Perlman doesn't see it that way.

“You negotiate from the position you're in,'' Perlman told the paper. “We had a conference that was falling apart.''

Indeed, the Big 12 looked like it might collapse when the Huskers fled to the Big Ten, and Nebraska was tired of that league's Texas focus, anyway. The Big Ten had all the leverage in that situation, offering Nebraska a lifeboat. Maryland, on the other hand, was firmly entrenched in the ACC, which was paying its schools a reported $20 million. The Terrapins also had major financial issues in their athletic department, and they are litigating a $52 million exit penalty from the ACC.

Nebraska made more money early on in the Big Ten deal than it would have in the Big 12, and its agreement ensured that the school would not make less money than it would have made in its former league. The big payday is still coming.

The World-Herald estimates that when Nebraska earns its full league share in 2017, that payout could be between $40 million and $50 million per school. That figure is based on league projections that include what is expected from the Big Ten's forthcoming new TV deal, which should be one of the largest ever signed by a sports league.

“This is a long-term agreement and partnership,'' Perlman said. “Even if you are just looking at the finances, you don't look at what you get the first or second year. I think we are financially advantaged by being where we are.''