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Badger Bits: Wisconsin, the Big Ten, and college football get richer

Wisconsin is among the most valuable brands with large thanks due to the Big Ten. What does the sudden influx of cash via television contracts mean for the state of the sport as a whole?
Wisconsin is among the most valuable brands with large thanks due to the Big Ten. What does the sudden influx of cash via television contracts mean for the state of the sport as a whole?

Wisconsin will receive a $24.6 million shared revenue injection from the Big Ten this year thanks to the conference's incredibly rich television contracts with BTN/ESPN/ABC, et. al. That figure is a big reason why the conference dominates most efforts to measure the value of athletic departments. Jason Kirk came up with his own metric, and though you can nitpick some of the methodology (in our case, the use of recruiting rankings as a measure of football success) the results look about right. Wisconsin came out as the 12th most valuable athletic department in the country, and the Big Ten owned nine of the top 30 schools.

The conference is absolutely flush with cash, with revenues continuing to rise. Ten of 12 schools turned in healthy profits last year. With some of the extra coin Jim Delany was made the second-highest paid commissioner in college football behind only the Pac-12's Larry Scott. The question now becomes, what does all the extra dough mean?

Money is the driver behind conference realignment, and with the Big 12 suddenly a big gorilla again, talk of four superconferences has gained traction. A sharper division between the haves and the have-nots may have some benefits. For one, it could allow the schools with money to take better care of their athletes. It's not hard to look at the Big Ten's pile of money and wonder why player scholarships don't at least cover the full cost of living. DJ Byrnes at Land Grant Holy Land advocates $100,000 salaries, which seems a bit far fetched, but the idea makes sense:

If each scholarship player were paid $100,000 a year -- or perhaps a percentage of the gross broadcasting windfall -- could players not afford tuition along with a comfortable living style? Why should they have to live their lives with some arbitrary hammer lurking over their heads? It's not ESPN suits logging the hours in the weight room. It's not Jim Delaney playing through injuries. Like my generation's Shakespeare, Drake, said, "[Mike Slive] wasn't shooting with me in the gym."

It will be fascinating to see where things go from here. Thankfully (to bring this full circle) Wisconsin is most certainly on the right side of things.

Links after the jump:

Congratulations to Ross and Grant James, who prevailed at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne sending the U.S. Men's 8 to the London Olympics. Wisconsin rowing has now sent athletes to 12 straight Olympic Games. I played a very small part helping these two learn how to row once upon a time, and trust me, that's a really cool feeling. Good luck in London, bros.

Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett talk possible expansion candidates for the Big Ten, none of which are particularly enticing except for Notre Dame.

More college playoff/Big Ten hullabaloo. Patrick Vint at Black Heart Gold Pants defends Delany, suggesting that the man who fought for his own network and wrangled Nebraska may have a trick or two up his sleeve. Fair point.

Mike Eaves is focused on winning the MacNaughton Cup in Wisconsin's final season as part of the WCHA.

Six Badgers made Phil Steele's preseason 1st-team All-Big Ten, the most of any team in the conference.

The Sporting News tabbed Wisconsin at No. 17 in its offseason basketball Top 25.

Sam Dekker gets billed as the conference's third best newcomer by Yahoo! Sports.

Michigan misses us, you guys.

Ohio State is giving its athletes iPads. And more NCAA violations could be coming down the shoot chute.

Even more complex relegation fun via MGoBlog's Mathlete.