While you are correct that the B1G pools their revenues and distributes them equally, you have oversimplified the calculation.
Here’s roughly how it would work.
The Holiday Bowl payout is estimated to be $2,850,000 (I have no idea why the article quotes $2.3M).
Before you start to divide that up, you need to subtract out Minnesota’s expense budget that the B10 will give them. That will be right around $2M. That leaves $850,000.
But there is another major expense that needs be taken out. The Big Ten is on the hook for ticket guarantees for all the bowls. That money is subtracted before any distributions are made. In the past, that unsold ticket expense has been as high as $4.5M. The Big Ten has publicly stated that they have since negotiated better deals regarding the unsold tickets, but they haven’t specifically disclosed what the deals are. So for purposes of discussion, let’s assume that the number is $3M. How many tickets would go unsold for the Holiday Bowl is a pure guess. For purposes of discussion let’s just assume the cost would be equal across all the bowls. Divide the $3M by 10 and you get an estimated $300,000 in unsold tickets for the game. Subtract that and now the money to be divvied up is down to $550,000.
Chop that up among all the Big Ten schools and now you’ve got an estimate of the revenue to Minnesota being something like $40,000 to $45,000.
But that doesn’t count the bonuses that Minnesota may or may not have to pay their coaches. Minnesota’s coaches contracts call for approximate $300,000 to be paid to Claeys and his staff for going to a bowl. Whether Minnesota would have to pay those bonuses would be something for the lawyers to decide. Interestingly, last year there was some universities that elected not to pay coaches bowl bonuses if the teams were under .500. Minnesota went to a bowl at 5-7 and Claeys actually argued that they should be paid the money because, regardless of what the team’s record was, the coaches had to put in that extra month of work. The administration agreed and paid the coaches. I wonder what Claeys’ argument would have been this year if the team hadn’t gone to the bowl?
So, if you factor that $300,000 into the equation, it’s quite possible that Minnesota would have been financially better off not going to the Holiday Bowl.