Power 5 conference revenues varied greatly for 2020-21 season amid COVID-19 pandemic

The ACC and Pac-12 released their financial data for the 2020-21 season on Friday, and most notably, the conferences saw their revenues impacted in a different way during the coronavirus pandemic.

While the ACC 990 form shows total revenue was more than $578.3 million, the highest gross revenue in league history, the Pac-12 reported total revenues of $344 million -- down 36% over the previous year.

The ACC saw a 16.4% increase in revenues compared to 2019-20, the largest growth with the current membership, and distributed an average of $36.1 million per school. The Pac-12 reported an average distribution of $19.8 million per school, a decrease of 41% over the previous year. In a statement, the Pac-12 attributed those numbers primarily to decreased media rights and postseason bowl revenues, game cancellations, lower event revenue due to no fans, and higher costs associated with COVID-19 health and safety protocols and testing.

While the Pac-12 did not play a full football season during the coronavirus pandemic, the ACC scheduled an 11-game season. Though the ACC had its own game cancellations, the bulk of the conference schedule was played, and that helped contribute to its financial success. The league did spend $2.5 million on medical testing during the pandemic.

Also helping the ACC: Notre Dame participated as a full-time football team for this one year as a result of the pandemic, which not only helped the overall revenue but allowed the Irish to gain an equal share of the revenue distribution.

The SEC scheduled a 10-game conference football season and saw its revenues increase as well. In February, the league announced $777.8 million in total revenue was divided among its 14 schools, with an average of $54.6 million per school. That also was an increase over the previous year, in which $657.7 million in revenue was distributed.

USA Today obtained the tax returns for the Big Ten and Big 12. Both conferences saw a decrease in their revenues over the previous season as well. The Big Ten reported nearly $680 million in revenue for 2021, down $89 million, while the Big 12 reported $53 million less in revenue.