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The Big Ten's revenue distributions will top $52 million per school next year

Michigan held a Board of Regents meeting Thursday, at which Wolverines AD Warde Manuel discussed the school's athletics budget for the 2018 and '19 fiscal years.

Thanks to this photo shared by the Detroit News's Angelique Chengelis, we know that the Big Ten sent out $51 million to its members in 2018 and will distribute $52 million in '19.

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I have two thoughts that spring from this.

First, when the Big Ten started the most recent round of realignment by poaching Nebraska from the Big 12, the pie-in-the-sky figure that the richest of the rich conferences sent to their members was $20 million. Remember, Dan Beebe kept the Big 12 alive by convincing Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State to pass the money it made from Nebraska and Colorado's departures straight to Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M so those schools could make $20 million like the big boys from the other major conferences.

The Big Ten now distributes 250 percent of that number thanks to the cash-grab additions of Rutgers and Maryland and the league's new TV contracts with ESPN and Fox. But wait, there's more: that 6-year, $2.64 billion contract that pushed the Big Ten past the $50 million mark? Commissioner Jim Delany signed such short deals that his league will cut the line in front of the rest of the Power 5 and be the first league at the negotiating table for the next round of contracts, too.

Finally, nearly immediately after Michigan's email announcing its $188 million revenue and $2.5 million budget surplus for 2018 hit my inbox, a similar email from Northern Illinois followed. It began like this:

During my many interactions with our fan base, a large number of supporters ask “How is NIU Athletics weathering the challenges of state and campus budget reductions?” As an answer to that question, and in order to highlight some of our success stories in this area, this month’s Frazier’s Corner is dedicated to the importance of revenue generation and the key pillars of our fundraising efforts.

As we recap and review our fundraising efforts in 2017-18, you will see in some of the charts and graphs below how the revenue generation initiatives and improvements we have made over the last five years have moved NIU Athletics forward, allowing us to grow the brand and expand our resources. Many of these initiatives were developed specifically to be self-sustaining, with potential for growth. While I am proud of the progress we have made, it is time to take the next steps.

NIU AD Sean Frazier proudly touted a $1 million fundraising campaign, all as part of a tooth-and-nail effort to keep the Huskies' athletics department financially solvent. A bit down the email was this chart.

NIU revenue

That's NIU touting to its supporters that its "additional revenue streams" -- which include everything from multimedia rights to women's basketball guarantees -- topped the $3 million mark in Fiscal Year 2018.

All while Michigan makes nearly $50 million more than that from the Big Ten alone.

Michigan and Northern Illinois are playing the same game, but they really aren't.