ATHLETIC DIRECTORS from the Pac-10 schools, plus incoming Colorado and Utah, have unanimously voted to share TV revenue equally and are moving toward a divisional split that puts the Northwest and Bay Area schools together, Washington State athletic director Bill Moos said in a late morning radio interview Friday. Moos also talked about the progress of the Cougar football team.
As for TV revenue sharing, WSU will realize a considerable cash windfall -- presuming conference presidents endorse the TV revenue sharing plan when they convene later this month.
Moos told KIRO Radio in Seattle that TV revenue sharing conversations at this week’s meeting of conference athletic directors were “very tense” but that they “came out unified” in the end and that for the two Washington schools the plan “will play very well.”
Pac-10 schools presently give 55 percent of the TV money to schools that participate in TV games and 45 percent to the other schools. Schools located in bigger markets – namely USC and UCLA -- tend to attract more TV games and thus reap a huge financial benefit. Other major conference such as the SEC and Big 12 split revenue equally.
If a large new TV contract for the conference is coming, as has been speculated, and if that revenue is split equally, then WSU’s annual TV income could be roughly $12 million to $15 million. By comparison, consider that WSU received $2.8 million in TV football revenue last season and $791,000 for basketball. In addition, the Cougars made nearly $184,000 from “local” telecasts set up outside the standard Pac-10 contracts.
For perspective on what an increase of $15 million would mean to WSU athletics, consider that the annual budget for the entire department currently is $30 million.
Moos said TV revenue sharing was the most important issue confronting athletic directors this week and that it had to be resolved before moving on to division alignment. That matter is not settled but significant progress was made, Moos said on KIRO’s “Brock and Salk” show.
“The first thing I wanted to make sure of was that we protect the Northwest rivalries,” Moos said, noting that WSU, UW, Oregon and Oregon State have been playing one another for more than 100 years. From there, he said, he pushed to add Stanford and Cal to this division. “I thought that made the most sense ... and that was the direction we started to head.”
One of the big concerns for all the non-LA schools is playing games in Los Angeles, because that giant market is a recruiting hotbed as well as a home to huge numbers of alums from every school.
By playing a nine-game conference schedule, Moos said the proposed Northern Division schools (WSU, UW, Oregon, OSU, Stanford and Cal) can still play a game in L.A. two out of every three years.
That is preferable to the notion of splitting up USC and UCLA – putting one of them in each division – because the standard home-and-home scheduling would mean the northern schools would only get to Los Angeles every other season. “I don’t think that helps as much (as the proposed northern-southern split).”
“We can have a presence in Los Angeles two out of three years with a north-south model ... with a nine-game (conference) schedule we still get into L.A. enough to satisfy what we want to do with alumni and recruiting.”
How close is the north-south plan to becoming a reality?
“I do see it as plausible,” Moos said. “One issue is that California schools want to play each other yearly ... we’ve looked at some models ... I think we’re almost there.”
MOOS ALSO WAS ASKED about the future of the Cougar football program, which has just four wins over the last two-and-a-half seasons.
“The program is in a lot better shape than the win-loss record shows,” he said. “Good, solid football programs produce winning football teams but a program is lots more than blocking, tackling, throwing and catching.” It also includes discipline, recruiting, facilities, academics and more, he noted. “We’re making great strides there.”
He said head coach Paul Wulff inherited a program in a deep hole and that things are “about at ground level now … we’re showing promise in our ability to compete on Saturdays.”
WSU needs to upgrade facilities in order to attract top talent, he said. Major facilities investments should have been launched in the span when WSU went to two Rose Bowls in six seasons and put together three consecutive 10-win seasons, he said. “Our challenge now is to get back there and stay there.”