CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman knows a big pay day is coming to the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics thanks to a new seven-year Big Ten media rights deal worth a reported seven-plus billion dollars but the Illini leader says most of the money that will funnel into his budget is already accounted for.
Multiple construction projects both recently completed and ongoing, inflation and the new Alston program that will pay Illini student-athletes for good grades will take up a majority of the new revenue from the league’s media deal, according to Whitman. The payouts for good grades alone is expected to cost the DIA about $3 million per year, or $5,980 per student, per year based on academic progress, eligibility and retention.
“We didn’t know what the dollar figure was going to be,” Whitman said. “But we knew that there was a bubble that was coming on the revenue side and so we anticipated that and budgeted that accordingly so we anticipated that the money coming in is budgeted and put to good use.”
Multiple reports have every Big Ten school slated to earn an estimated $80-$100 million per year in payouts from the Big Ten, more than $25 million more than the current distribution, but Whitman warns ‘you shouldn’t believe everything you read’ from the reports. Regardless of how much increased cash Illinois will see starting with the new deal next year running through 2030, Whitman says it will certainly help.
“I think it just is a tremendous testament to the brand and reputation of the Big Ten conference, the breadth of this league and attractiveness of what’s happening in the Big Ten and our member institutions, now from coast-to-coast,” Whitman said.