With less than three weeks remaining before Maryland plans to eliminate eight of its 27 varsity sports, Athletic Director Kevin Anderson on Monday posted an open letter to Terrapins fans tamping down any expectation that the ACC’s recently negotiated contract extension with ESPN will generate enough new revenue to save any of the teams.
The 15-year contract extension, announced May 9, runs through 2026-27 and is worth $3.6 billion, according to Sports Business Daily. When divided among the ACC’s 14 member schools (once Pittsburgh and Syracuse joins), the annual payouts, which begin in 2013-14, will average $17.14 million — an increase of just more than $4 million per school each year.
The additional revenue reflects the conference’s expansion from 12 to 14 teams and, in particular, the increased number of ACC men’s basketball games once the league adopts an 18-game conference schedule.
In his letter, Anderson writes that the reported $4 million increase per school is “not exactly the reality, though.” The payments increase over time, Anderson notes, starting at roughly $1 million per year. Moreover, he notes, the panel appointed by Maryland President Wallace Loh that recommended the cuts anticipated a spike in ACC TV revenue and based its financial projections on such an increase. Therefore, he explains, it’s not “new” money and can’t help spare teams from being dropped.
“Unfortunately, this money will not assist the Save Our Sports campaign,” Anderson wrote. “The President’s Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics took into account the expansion-related increase in the television contracts when it forecasted future revenue, prior to making the recommendation to discontinue sports. So the increase in the television contract is not ‘new’ money for budgeting purposes.
Shortly after Loh approved the cuts in November, Anderson announced that each Terrapins team targeted for elimination could save itself by raising eight years of operating expenses by June 30. The amount needed was staggering, ranging from $3.8 million to $11.6 million.
Based on the progress report Anderson included in his letter on Monday, only men’s track, which has had its financial target revised to a series of more manageable, short-term benchmarks, is remotely within reach of success.
Below is a list of the cash raised to date by teams scheduled for elimination, followed by the target, in parentheses, they must reach by June 30 in order to win a reprieve:
Acrobatics & Tumbling - $8,116 ($5,279,227)
Men’s Tennis - $2,485 ($3,800,738)
Men’s Track - $647,851.12 ($940,000*)
Swimming & Diving - $306,602 ($2.8 million**)
Water Polo - $33,736 ($1,051,341***)
* Revised benchmark; will need to raise $3.76 million by Dec. 31, 2013
** Revised benchmark; will need to raise $11.57 million by Dec. 31, 2013
*** Revised benchmark; will need to raise $4,205,366 by Dec. 31, 2013