Big Ten Network deal funds financial aid, libraries, athletics

Nov. 16, 2007

by Amy Toburen

A minimum revenue guarantee of more than $6.1 million from the Big Ten Network will make it possible to increase need-based scholarships to University of Wisconsin-Madison students, enhance campus libraries and keep UW athletics competitive, Chancellor John D. Wiley and Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez announced Friday.

"No other athletic conference is in a position to realize this magnitude of media revenue," says Wiley. "It is critical to show campus benefit in some strategic areas that are shared by our general student population and our student-athletes."

Wiley says the campus portion will support need-based scholarships and libraries. The Division of Intercollegiate Athletics share of the revenue, according to Alvarez, "will be used to improve the athletic and academic performance of student-athletes and to enhance facilities in non-revenue sports."

Susan Fischer, director of the Office of Student Financial Services, says the Big Ten Network funding will enable UW-Madison to assist more than 300 low-income students during the current academic year. More than $1.3 million from the network contract revenue goes to fund need-based aid.

"This infusion of funds amounts to a 20 percent increase in our institutional need-based grants that are used to assist students, especially Wisconsin students, who might otherwise not be able afford to attend a world class institution," Fischer says. "We look forward to continuing using the funding in the coming years to keep access to UW-Madison a reality for those whose academic abilities exceed their economic means."

More than $440,000 in network revenue goes to campus libraries, says Ken Frazier, director of the General Library System.

"This enables us to strengthen the library resources and services that most benefit our students," Frazier says. "Students have been very effective in telling us what they need. We plan to respond by maintaining access to up-to-date electronic collections and databases and by upgrading the study space environment. And, we need to support the service programs that help students develop research skills. This funding will make a huge difference."

In addition to the additional funding, coaches say the national exposure afforded to their sports improves recruiting prospects and the awareness of their programs. Also, up to 60 hours of university programming provided each year by the network will allow the university to showcase student achievement, research breakthroughs, alumni accomplishments and classroom excellence.

The revenue from the unprecedented conference media initiative will be distributed between the general campus (30 percent) and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics (70 percent) with the breakdown as follows:

  • Guaranteed revenue: $6.125 million;
  • Less campus programming costs: $250,000;
  • Percentage of net revenue to campus (30 percent): $1.762 million. Of that amount, 75 percent distributed to Student Financial Services (75 percent): $1.321 million; and 25 percent distributed to General Library System: $440,625;
  • Percentage of net revenue to Athletics (70 percent): $4.112 million.