Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2014

Currently: 44° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Nevada regents up in arms over BCS payouts

Image

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Athletic Director Jim Livengood listens as UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck briefs the media and boosters on the recruits UNLV signed Tuesday, February 2, 2011.

Updated Friday, March 2, 2012 | 10:20 a.m.

Some Nevada higher education leaders are threatening to file suit against the Bowl Championship Series to fix what they see as unfair revenue distribution among the NCAA’s Division I football-playing schools.

UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood, in a presentation Thursday before the Board of Regents, said the total payout in 2010-11 from the BCS was $145.2 million. Of that total, $118 million — or 81 percent — is split among six major conferences: the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC. (The BCS, now in its 14th year, sets the matchups for the top four college football bowl games — Rose, Orange, Fiesta and Sugar — and the BCS National Championship Game.)

The Mountain West, of which UNLV is a member, received $12.75 million — 8 percent of the payout — from the BCS in 2010-11, Livengood said.

“They're trying to keep the rest of us alive but not healthy,” Livengood said.

However, recent budget cuts have forced Nevada’s cash-strapped universities to find additional funding sources for nonacademic activities like athletics. The overwhelming majority of college athletics programs — 93 percent — operate in the red, Livengood said, including UNLV.

With the six major conferences receiving the lion’s share of the BCS revenue, two regents expressed outrage over what they see as a funding inequity, a longtime concern among less prominent conferences, which refer to themselves as non-BCS schools.

Since the majority of Division I schools — 66 percent — are public institutions, Regents Michael Wixom and Ron Knecht said Nevada taxpayers essentially were subsidizing big-time college football programs at the expense of UNLV and UNR.

“What frustrates me is taxpayers are, in essence, funding the infrastructure of college football,” Wixom said. “In a decade or two, taxpayers are going to fund the entire system to the benefit of a few elite schools. It's unsustainable.

“I'm infuriated by this nonsense,” he continued. “I want this stopped.”

The news comes as colleges across the nation are undergoing conference realignments. Member schools of the Mountain West and Conference USA announced last month they would dissolve their conferences and form a new league that would begin play in the 2013-14 academic year. The new conference is expected to attract between 16 and 24 schools when it starts in July 2013, Livengood said.

UNLV is hopeful the larger conference could attract more BCS revenue and TV revenue. Currently, UNLV receives $1.5 million in TV revenue annually, Livengood said. Schools in the Pac-12, on the other hand, receive between $15 million and $17 million in TV revenue, he said.

However, it would be “naive” to think revenue inequities would be solved under the new conference, Livengood said. Thursday was the first he heard of plans for a lawsuit, and he said he could not comment on what such a suit would look like if regents went forward with it.

CORRECTION: This version clarifies the $15 million to $17 million in annual television revenue is what Pac-12 schools receive. | (March 2, 2012)

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 2 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. Maybe now that Board of Regents knows the fact about the corrupt BCS they'll stop slashing budgets and finally give a hoot about UNLV football. Maybe they'll finally realize the importance of getting a new football stadium built.

    From what it sounds like the Board of Regents were in the dark about how college athletics work and how insignificant UNLV is. I don't understand how one can be on the Board and not know these things...it's like duh!

  2. and just how much "in the red" are we? How much taxpayer support, how much from student fees, how much non-revenue, non-donation, etc. Several years ago ESPN calculated that almost 50% of UNLV's athletics budget was from student fees and taxpayers. When UNLV is closing departments, canceling programs and laying-off faculty in academics it is ridiculous to fund grandiose athletic schemes.

    Paul T......how about a story on just what this is costing taxpayers and students?