Bowl Game Payouts are Practically a Small Fortune in College Football
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Despite the serious bowl problem of players skipping out on their team one game early, the college football bowl season is the most important stretch of games for so many colleges and universities. Not only is this a chance for smaller schools to receive national attention, but the payday that comes with winning a college bowl game nearly pays for the whole party.

Sure, some of these ridiculous bowl games are basically handing out participation trophies mixed with an “atta boy!” While attendance and motivation for each games varies greatly depending on where the game takes place and who is playing, the most important figure to take away, as you’d expect, is the stone-cold cash prize at the end.

It’s important to know that every school doesn’t collect their winnings and scurry away to their home campus, though. Bowl game payouts are paid to each participating college football conference, which is then divided up to every school in that conference.

Yes, even though the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and their 13 combined wins in the last five years STILL get a piece of the pie for every Big Ten Conference team that wins their postseason game or makes the College Football Playoff.

Since the inception of the CFP, the money gets distributed a little bit differently than the BCS. Here is the revenue distribution for the six major bowl games: the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl.

New Year’s Six Bowl Game Payouts

— Each conference gets $300,000 for each school that meets the NCAA’s academic performance review (APR) for participation in a postseason bowl; FBS Independents like Notre Dame also receive the same amount.

— Each of the 10 conferences receive a base payout, again pending that academic performance review. For the Power 5 conferences with contracts to send its champion to the Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowl, each conference receives around $66 million. For the other Group of Five conferences that do not have automatic bids for its champion, they divide a total of around $90 million amongst themselves. Notre Dame automatically gets $3.19 million if it meets that APR review; all other independents split about $1.56 million.


— Each conference gets $6 million for every football team it sends to a playoff semifinal game. They also get an additional $4 million for participation in one of the other non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl games. There is no additional revenue added for making the national championship game.

— Each conference gets an additional $2.43 million to cover travel expenses for each game.

In summary: there is A LOT of money on the line for these massive football games.

In addition to the College Football Playoff revenue pool, of course, each bowl matchup game pays out to the winner. Here were the winners of the other non-playoff bowl games from the 2018-19 season, and how much they collected for their respective conference.

American Athletic Conference (AAC)

Cincinnati Bearcats, Military Bowl: $2.07 million

Tulane Green Wave, Cure Bowl: $751,115

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)

Duke Blue Devils, Independence Bowl: $1.25 million

Syracuse Orange, Camping World Bowl: $5.80 million

Virginia Cavaliers, Belk Bowl: $4.51 million

Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Birmingham Bowl: $1.65 million

Big Ten Conference

Iowa Hawkeyes, Outback Bowl: $6.35 million


Minnesota Golden Gophers, Quick Lane Bowl: $750,000

Northwestern Wildcats, Holiday Bowl: $6.33 million

Wisconsin Badgers, Pinstripe Bowl: $4.30 million

Big 12 Conference

Baylor Bears, Texas Bowl: $6.30 million

Oklahoma State Cowboys, Liberty Bowl: $4.29 million

TCU Horned Frogs, Cheez-It Bowl: $1.04 million

Conference USA

Florida International Golden Panthers, Bahamas Bowl: $225,000

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Hawaii Bowl: $1.00 million

Marshall Thundering Herd, Gasparilla Bowl: $1.13 million

UAB Blazers, Boca Raton Bowl: $1.00 million

FBS Independents

Army Golden Knights, Armed Forces Bowl: $900,000

BYU Cougars, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: $950,000

Mid-American Conference (MAC)

Ohio Bobcats, Frisco Bowl: $750,000

Mountain West Conference (MWC)

Fresno State Bulldogs, Las Vegas Bowl: $2.76 million

Nevada Wolfpack, Arizona Bowl: $412,920

Utah State Aggies, New Mexico Bowl: $1.05 million

Pac-12 Conference

Oregon Ducks, Redbox Bowl: $3.60 million


Stanford Cardinal, Sun Bowl: $3.45 million

Washington State Cougars, Alamo Bowl: $7.975 million

Southeastern Conference (SEC)

Auburn Tigers, Music City Bowl: $5.60 million

Kentucky Wildcats, Citrus Bowl: $8.55 million

Texas A&M Aggies, Gator Bowl: $3.17 million

Sun Belt Conference

Appalachian State Mountaineers, New Orleans Bowl: $925,000

Georgia Southern Eagles, Camellia Bowl: $250,000

Troy Trojans, Dollar General Bowl: $1.50 million

Since college football moved from the BCS system to the Playoff era, money around the game has skyrocketed. While some believe the FBS should adopt the Football Championship Subdivision’s (FCS) model of a 24-team tournament, it’s not going to change when the current system is working so well for everyone involved.

After the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers met in Santa Clara to decide the 2019 National Champion, the money was divided, the checks were cashed, and another year of college football was in the books with a few fat wallets to make it all worth while.

This article was originally published January 4, 2019.

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John Duffley About the author:
John joins the FanBuzz team with five years of experience freelancing as a sports writer for and A graduate of Penn State University, John currently lives and works in Austin, Texas. He is also a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
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