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NCAA Revenue Drops 54% As Athlete Likeness Decision Is Delayed

T
he NCAA has revealed it has lost more than USD$800 million (AUD$1 billion) in revenue due to the cancellation of the men’s basketball ‘March Madness’ tournament in 2020.

Audited financial statements have shown the college sports governing body brought in USD$519 million (AUD$670 million) in the year ending August 31, 2020, a figure which is down 54% from the USD$1.1 billion (AUD$1.42 billion) the NCAA recorded for the prior 12 months.

With a breakdown of the figures from 2019 compared to 2020, the NCAA brought in USD$165.2 million (AUD$213.5 million) in 2020 in TV and marketing rights fees, compared to USD$867.5 million (AUD$1.12 billion) in 2019.

The NCAA also saw a drop of USD$162.1 million (AUD$209.5 million) in revenue from championships and NIT tournaments in 2020, although the overall losses were offset by a USD$270 million (AUD$349 million) loss of revenue insurance payout for cancelling the March Madness tournament, and a USD$26 million (AUD$33.6 million) increase in net investment income from 2019.

To help American college sports recover from the financial losses as a result of COVID-19, the NCAA is planning to hold the 2021 March Madness tournament across March and April in an Indiana hub, with the NCAA confirming it plans to distribute USD$613 million to its members in 2021.

Due to the loss of revenue and cancellation of the 2020 March Madness tournament, the NCAA gave out USD$225 million (AUD$290.8 million) to its members, after proposing a figure around USD$600 million (AUD$775.5 million).

The decrease in revenue distribution for NCAA members put greater financial strain on individual colleges and universities in the US, on top of the losses felt by the disruptions to all spring sports and the current winter sport disruptions, including the football season.

This news comes as the NCAA Division I Council voted to delay enacting legislation on name, image, and likeness rights for athletes, after it was reported the Council would approve the vote.

NCAA president, Mark Emmert, wrote in a letter to the Justice Department, obtained by the New York Times: “We believe, as courts have regularly held, that our current amateurism and other rules are indeed fully compliant.”

“Whenever we consider revisions to the rules, however, we of course receive input from many interested parties, and we welcome your invitation to consult with the department so that we can hear and fully understand its views as well,” Emmert said.

A factor in the delay has been named as legislation at the US federal level concerning college athlete benefits is nearing completion and could see college players gain rights beyond what the NCAA has allowed since its inception in 1906.

The NCAA is however expected to reach a decision and pass new legislation regarding athlete rights regarding name, image, and likeness compensation in 2021.