Despite a rare national-championship double in football and men’s basketball, the ACC’s 2018-19 tax filing Friday shows a 2% decline from the previous year’s record revenue.
The dip, from $464.7 million to $455.4 million, was due to the conference’s contracted New Year’s Six bowl, the Orange, hosting a 2018 College Football Playoff semifinal. In those rotating years, once every three, the ACC does not receive its Orange Bowl payout of more than $25 million.
As a result, the league’s bowl revenue fell from $114.9 million to $88.4 million. A 4.2% bump in television revenue, to $288.6 million, nearly offset the bowl shortfall.
In 2015-16, the first time the Orange Bowl hosted a CFP semifinal, overall ACC revenue declined 7.4% from the previous year, nearly four times the 2018-19 rate.
The ACC’s 14 full members received, on average, $28.8 million in 2018-19, ranging from Clemson’s $34 million to North Carolina’s $27.6 million. Virginia’s and Virginia Tech’s shares were $28.8 million and $28.6 million, respectively.
Notre Dame, an ACC member in sports other than football, collected $6.8 million.
Distributions do not include any of the schools’ revenue from their respective multimedia contracts with firms such as Learfield IMG College.
The ACC’s average distribution trails its Power Five peers. As reported by USA Today’s Steve Berkowitz, the Big Ten paid its 12 longstanding members — newcomers Maryland and Rutgers don’t yet receive a full share — $55.6 million on average. The Southeastern Conference and Pacific 12 were at $45.3 million and $32.2 million, respectively, with Big 12 distributions ranging from $38.2 million to $42 million, again according to USA Today.
Tax filings for conferences lag a year behind, and the 2018-19 returns were further delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With last August’s launch of the ACC Network, the conference expects a revenue uptick for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which ended June 30.
Bridging the revenue gap with the Big Ten and SEC will be a primary task for John Swofford’s successor as commissioner. Swofford is retiring in June 2021 after 24 years in the position.
Revenue disparity notwithstanding, the ACC thrived competitively in 2018-19. Thanks to Virginia men’s basketball and Clemson football, the league swept college sports’ marquee national championships for the fourth time in its history and second time in three years. UVA men’s lacrosse, North Carolina field hockey, Duke women’s golf and Florida State’s women’s golf also won NCAA titles.
The SEC hasn’t swept football and men’s basketball titles since Alabama and Florida in 2011-12. The Pac-12, then the Pac-8, did so with USC and UCLA in 1974-75, the Big Ten with Michigan State and Indiana in 1952-53.
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