COLUMBIA, Mo. Bigger bowl games don't necessarily mean more money. The Big 12 and Big Ten conferences, for example, are among those that pool the bowl payouts of their eligible teams and split the money equally among all league members.
So while Illinois' $17 million payout for going to the Rose Bowl might dwarf Missouri's $3 million Cotton Bowl guarantee, Missouri actually stands to make a little more money than Illinois when the conference checks are cut.
And Missouri, which will be in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, will get the same amount of money as conference rival Kansas will get for its appearance in the Orange Bowl in Miami. In fact, after travel expenses, Missouri likely will clear more.
"A lot of people think if you're going to a BCS bowl you're going to make a lot more money, but chances are you're really not," Missouri athletics director Mike Alden said. "You might have to stay an extra day, and the planes going to Miami are a lot more money than going to Dallas. There isn't a lot more money in going to a BCS bowl than there is going to a Tier II because all the money is sent to the conference and then dispersed equally."
The Big 12 and Big Ten conferences pay their bowl-eligible schools stipends to travel to their respective bowl destinations. Illinois will get $2.1 million dollars from the Big Ten, and the Big 12 will give Mizzou $950,000 plus $199 a mile as reimbursement for a Tier II bowl Cotton, Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Insight or Gator. Missouri also receives 50 percent of the ticket revenue for everything sold above 50 percent of its allotment. Missouri sold all 16,000 tickets in its allotment. At $90 apiece, Missouri makes $360,000 on tickets alone. Overall, Missouri has just over $1.4 million to spend on its bowl trip.
The Big Ten's eight bowls will make the conference $35.3 million, which gives Illinois about $2.1 million. The Big 12 stands to make $33.8 million in bowl revenue, which gives each Big 12 school just over $2.8 million. The difference is that the Big Ten subtracts bowl travel expenses from bowl revenue, whereas the Big 12 uses a separate fund to send its teams to bowls.
Alden said Missouri will make a little extra money beyond its conference share. Preliminary figures show Mizzou expects to make at least $30,000 possibly as much as $50,000 off its trip to Dallas by cutting some travel expenses.
Mizzou's hotel, the Hilton Anatole, is $109 per night per room. That's about $40 less per room than the team spent in El Paso, Texas, last year. The Cotton Bowl will provide some meals, and the team plans to have the hotel cater breakfast every day. For those meals that aren't catered, the university is allowed to give players up to $50 per day $30 from the school and an extra $20 per NCAA rules and $42 per day for coaches and staff.
While $30,000 is a drop in the bucket of Mizzou's $49 million athletics budget, it's better than most schools fare after bowl games. More often than not, schools end up reaching into their own pockets to make up for travel cost overruns.
"I think we've done a good job of balancing our budget," Alden said. "I think we made $30,000 last year (off the Sun Bowl travel budget), and we're on pace to do the same or more this year. I think we're one of the few teams in the conference that has been able to report a profit after a bowl game."
A lot of that extra revenue comes from ticket sales. Last year, Missouri didn't make much money on tickets because it sold only 5,000 of its 8,000 allotment.
The bowl money helps to bolster football budgets at Illinois and Missouri. In 2006, Illinois generated $20.7 million in revenue from football and had $9.3 million in expenses, according to the school's equity in athletics report. Missouri had $15.2 million in revenue and $9.3 million in expenses.
Missouri puts the share it gets from the Big 12 and any excess money it gets from the bowl into a general operating fund for use across the athletics department. Some of that money goes to employees as extra compensation. And it helps pay for coach Gary Pinkel's bonuses for the season.
Per his contract, Pinkel was awarded $25,000 for winning the Big 12 North and $42,500 (two months of his $255,000 base salary) for reaching a Tier II bowl. He also was awarded $25,000 for winning 11 games.
The loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game did keep Pinkel from an additional $150,000 $100,000 for making the national championship game and $50,000 for winning the Big 12. If the Tigers had made a BCS bowl, he would have netted a three-month salary bonus instead of two.
The one advantage Missouri has over a lot of other Big 12 bowl teams is location. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex constitutes Missouri's largest alumni base outside of Missouri. It is also the largest recruiting bed outside of Missouri for both the football team and the general student population. The school reported a 20 percent increase in undergraduate applicants because of the success of the football team, and that number figures to increase with the game being played in the backyard of many potential applicants.
"I think from a financial standpoint, having so many fans and alumni from Dallas, it helps tremendously," Missouri associate athletics director Mark Alnutt said. "And we expect Southlake, Chase Daniel's hometown, we expect that whole community to show up in full force, too."