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Could an FCS league actually pay out more money than an FBS league?

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

I realize there have been a gazillion news stories this week, but one off-the-radar story from earlier this week has stuck with me.

Friend of the Newsletter HBCUGameDay caught up with Dr. Charles McClelland, the commissioner of the SWAC. The full media interview is nearly 45 minutes, but GameDay noted some particularly interesting quotes about the booming business of the SWAC. In particular:

“I’ve said this before and I say it now — we are not the small black college or conference anymore,” McClelland told the media. “We are a legitimate force, our revenue numbers are tracking extremely strong. I have not seen the other FCS conference’s revenue this year — but based on last year’s numbers — we will rank first of all of FCS. Given where we are with our television contracts in five years, we will actually surpass two FBS conferences and they might have the ability to up their numbers.”

McClelland said the league is preparing to enter re-negotiations with ESPN as its deal is set to expire in three years.

TV money at the FCS level, in general, isn't very good. Most games aren't on linear television, and most conference TV rights aren't bringing in huge, six-figure media checks. A lot of those TV rights fees have to be reinvested right back into production expenses anyway. The realignment pressures and the overwhelming dominance of media revenue we see at the P5 level...do not exist the same way for FCS football.

But the SWAC isn't like most other FCS conferences. I'd argue that Dr. McClelland is exactly right...the league isn't just a collection of small Black colleges anymore. The league's financial situation is unquestionably improving.

But pass an FBS league or two? Well, it's not a crazy projection. But let's try to take a closer look.

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