A new media contract with the Big Ten could mean a big influx of cash for Penn State programs.
That money is not all about scoreboards and locker rooms. Arts, mental health and donation matches to student support initiatives will get a boost.
Although the agreements with the conference are not finalized yet, the university is proceeding with plans to pour the funds into other areas.
“They aren’t done yet, but we have enough confidence in the outcome that we’ve decided to take $4 million of that and have it be a bigger athletic contribution to the success of the university as a whole,” said President Eric Barron in an interview with the Centre Daily Times.
He unveiled the plans to his board of trustees Friday.
The initial investments will include $450,000 to Counseling and Psychological Services, $250,000 to the Blue Band and $2 million to The Arboretum at Penn State to match other donations adding to plans for a STEM-museum and planetarium.
For the following five years, some of those would grow. The CAPS funding would go up to $700,000, while the Blue Band would get $500,000. At the same time, other money would go to match other donations, putting cash into things like helping students study abroad, explore options they might not be able to afford or just graduate on time.
That chunk of cash is not chump change. According to the U.S. Department of Education, $4 million is just a little shy of the operating budget for Penn State women’s basketball, and it’s twice as much as the university spends on all of its athletic recruiting.
The new media rights contract goes into effect in July 2017, and Penn State anticipates an increase in revenue that should make a “significant portion of the increase” available to support other areas of the university’s mission.
In 2016, the conference inked new deals with major broadcasters such as CBS, ESPN and Fox.
“The three deals together, along with Big Ten Network’s rights through 2031-32, tie up the Big Ten’s media rights for the next six years and nearly triples the conference's revenue from television,” according to Forbes.
The DesMoines Register estimated that the $2.6 billion six-year deal with ESPN alone would mean about $50 million to member universities.
“This is a new chapter in the success of our athletics and the success of Big Ten athletics,” Barron said. “I expect that will grow.”