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Power Five conferences brought in more than $3.3 billion in 2022 with Big Ten, SEC leading the way

Business is booming in college athletics.

According to federal tax records obtained by USA Today, the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) brought in more than $3.3 billion in combined revenue for the 2022 fiscal year.

The Big Ten and SEC were the top earners as expected with the Big Ten bringing in $845.6 million in revenue and the SEC next in line at $802 million. The Big Ten doled out around $58.8 million to each of its schools with the SEC distributing approximately $49.9 million per member.

The ACC and Pac-12 both reported record revenue figures even as they lagged behind the Big Ten and SEC. The ACC totaled $617 million in revenue and distributed $41.3 million to each member while the Pac-12 brought in $581 million and distributed around $37 million to its members.

Finally, the Big 12 reported $480.6 million in revenue, amounting to around $44.9 million being distributed to each school.

Gap between SEC, Big Ten and others will grow

The Big Ten and SEC were already earning significantly more than their conference counterparts. That will continue to be the case — and then some.

Both the Big Ten and SEC have massive new media rights deals beginning next year. While the SEC struck an exclusive 10-year deal with ESPN, the Big Ten’s $7 billion deal spans multiple networks (Fox, CBS and NBC) and is slated to last seven years.

The Big 12 struck a new deal in October to stick with ESPN and Fox that will reportedly see its revenue shares grow in excess of $50 million per school.

The Pac-12, meanwhile, has been trying to finalize a media rights deal of its own for nearly a year. The value of the Pac-12’s impending deal was slashed when USC and UCLA bolted for the Big Ten.

The ACC is handcuffed to a media rights deal with ESPN that goes through 2036, a source of consternation for many in the league. As a result of that deal, the ACC’s revenues will lag behind the other Power Five leagues and reports surfaced earlier this week that a group of seven ACC schools was searching for alternatives.

Exiting the ACC spring meetings on Wednesday, ACC officials largely presented a united front but that could prove to be lip service in the long run. Two summers ago, Oklahoma and Texas left the Big 12 for the SEC. Last summer, it was USC and UCLA going from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten.

Will there be another wave of realignment in the coming months?