Monday, June 17, 2024

Big 12 paid former commissioner Bob Bowlsby $17.2 million in his final year

Must read

Power Five conference tax records obtained by USA TODAY Sports contain data on overall fiscal-year finances. For 2023, Power Five totaled over $3.55 billion.

Former Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby was paid more than $17.2 million in total compensation for the 2022 calendar year, the conference’s new federal tax records show.

The conference said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports that $12.26 million “of his remaining contract was paid out” in 2022 and another $3.337 million “vested” and was paid to Bowlsby, who worked as the Big 12’s commissioner from 2012 through July 2022.

The latter amount includes $2.6 million that had been reported by the conference as deferred compensation in prior years’ tax filings, according to the document, which the conference provided this week in response to a request from USA TODAY Sports.

In his capacity as commissioner in 2022, he was credited with a little over $1.45 million in base salary, an annualized rate of $2.5 million.

Conference spokesman Bob Burda said Thursday the $17.2 million total represents the final payout to Bowlsby other than $15,000 that Bowlsby received for working as a consultant to the conference.

In early April 2022, the conference announced that Bowlsby would “step away” from the commissioner’s job. The announcement included a statement from Bowlsby in which he mentioned that his contract had been set to end in 2025. As a private, non-profit organization, the Big 12 does not have to disclose its employment agreements, and Burda declined to provide the contract or any other details about it.

Bowlsby was not the only former commissioner to receive significant pay in 2022. New returns from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 Conference provided this week in response to requests from USA TODAY Sports showed:

▶Larry Scott — whose run as Pac-12 commissioner concluded at the end of June 2021 — received a $1.5 million severance payment in 2022, as well as $750,000 in what was categorized as bonus and incentive pay. It was the second consecutive year in which he received $1.5 million in severance. Scott also continued to have the benefit of a nearly $1.9 million relocation loan that dates from his hiring in July 2009.

The conference said in a statement that Scott’s severance pay ended in 2022, the loan is due to be repaid in full by June 30, 2024, and that all bonuses are determined by the conference’s board of directors. The board is composed of school presidents and chancellors.

▶John Swofford, who wrapped up 24 years with the Atlantic Coast Conference in June 2021, received nearly $2.6 million from the conference in 2022. Almost all of that amount was reported as base pay.

The conference said in a statement that Swofford’s pay from the conference ended on Dec. 31, 2022.

▶In another notable 2022 payout for a then-active commissioner, the Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff received $500,000 in bonus and incentive pay during a year in which conference mainstays UCLA and USC announced they were leaving for the Big Ten Conference. Those moves will occur this summer.

Overall, Kliavkoff was credited with just under $4 million for 2022. In February 2024, with the conference having endured announcements of the impending departures of eight more schools, the Pac-12 Board of Directors announced that the conference and Kliavkoff had ”mutually agreed to part ways.”

Former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was credited with nearly $5.9 million in 2022, according to the return that conference released earlier this week. His total includes $2.8 million in deferred compensation reported on prior years’ returns, and the fifth year’s worth of money from the more than $20 million in future bonuses for which he became eligible in July 2015 and the conference has said he will be receiving over a 10-year span, running through the 2027 calendar year.

Under IRS rules, while non-profit organizations – including college athletics conferences – make most financial disclosures on a fiscal-year basis, they are required to report employee compensation figures on a calendar-year basis. They must use the calendar year completed during the given fiscal year. For conferences other than the SEC, the fiscal year covered by the new return ended June 30, 2023, so the 2022 calendar year is used for compensation reporting. The SEC’s fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2023.

$3.55 billion in revenue for Power Five

The conferences’ tax records also provide data about their overall fiscal-year finances — and, for 2023, the Power Five totaled just over $3.55 billion. (The Southeastern Conference released its returns in February.) That represents a $227 million increase compared to 2022, or nearly 7%.

All five conferences reported revenue increases, with the ACC recording the greatest rise: Nearly $90 million to nearly $707 million.

All of this occurred against the backdrop of a variety of legal entanglements connected to athlete compensation. A set of antitrust lawsuits against the NCAA and the Power Five conferences is headed toward a proposed settlement. According to a summary of proposed settlement terms first reported by Yahoo! Sports and ESPN and later obtained by USA TODAY Sports, the NCAA would pay nearly $2.8 billion to settle the damages claims over a 10-year period, and the remaining Power Four conference schools would begin sharing future revenues with athletes. 

For a second consecutive year, the Pac-12 Conference reported on its new filing that it “anticipates” filing an amended return because of “a possible restatement” of its audited financial statements. This is connected to overpayments totaling more than $50 million that Comcast made over a period of at least five years to the conference-owned Pac-12 Networks, according to a conference spokesman; a previous statement from the conference and a wrongful-termination suit filed by two former Pac-12 executives who were fired in January after the overpayments were discovered.

Conference spokesman Erik Hardenbergh said the 2022 revision has not yet been filed.

Other conference-by-conference facts, figures and details from the documents obtained this week and earlier this year, along with additional comments from the conferences:


Revenue: $707 million, third among Power Five.

About $38 million of its increase came from TV revenue. The conference said in a statement that this was driven in part by Comcast picking up the ACC Network in December 2021, which made 2023 the first full fiscal year in which the network had reached full distribution.

The conference increased its bowl revenue by about $40 million compared to 2022, primarily because the Orange Bowl was not a College Football Playoff semifinal following the 2022 season, so the ACC could get revenue from that game. That didn’t happen when the Orange Bowl was a semifinal after the 2021 season.  

Per-school payouts: $43.3 million to $46.9 million, with an average of $44.8 million (third among Power Five), not including Notre Dame, which received $22.1 million while playing football as an independent.

Commissioner’s pay: Jim Phillips, in his first full calendar year as commissioner, was credited with nearly $2.8 million in total pay. Of that amount, $2.625 million was recorded as base salary.

Big 12

Revenue: $510.7 million, fifth among Power Five.

The total increased by just over $30 million (just over 6%).

Per-school payouts: $42 million to $48.3 million, with an average of $44.2 million, fourth among Power Five.

Oklahoma and Texas, who announced in July 2021 that they were making a future move to the SEC, received full shares.

Commissioner’s pay: Brett Yormark, who become commissioner on Aug. 1, 2022, was credited with just under $1.2 million for the partial year. Nearly all of that was in base salary paid at an annualized rate of $2.5 million.


Revenue: $603.9 million, fourth among Power Five.

The total increased by just under $23 million (4%), pending the filing of a revised return.

Per-school payouts:  $33.6 million, fifth among Power Five.

While the conference’s total revenue increased, the total amount paid to schools dropped by $40.5 million, or about $3.4 million per school.

This occurred even as the conference reported on the current version of its return that it operated at an annual surplus totaling nearly $60 million.

“Our net assets will be adjusted down after our audit is finished,” the conference said in a statement. “Our revenue over expenses increased, but we had some prior adjustments that needed to be considered that impacted the distributions.” The distributions were approved by the board of directors for the conference, which is composed of the schools’ presidents and chancellors.  

Commissioner’s pay: See above.

Big Ten

Revenue: Nearly $880 million, first among the Power Five.

Per-school payouts: About $60.5 million for the 12 longest-standing members, first among the Power Five (Maryland and Rutgers each received about $58.9 million).

Commissioner’s pay: Current commissioner Tony Petitti began working for the conference in May 2023, so his pay is not included in this return. His predecessor, Kevin Warren, was credited with $3.7 million in total pay in the 2022 calendar year. Warren is now the Chicago Bears’ president and CEO.


Revenue: $852.6 million, second among the Power Five.

Per-school payouts: About $51.3 million, second among the Power Five.

Commissioner’s pay: Greg Sankey was credited with just over $3.6 million in total pay in the 2022 calendar year, nearly all in base salary.

Latest article