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The Money Behind NCAA’s March Madness

W
ith the NCAA’s March Madness college basketball tournament wrapping up this morning, the money earned by the NCAA and its teams has been brought into the spotlight.

The NCAA typically earns close to AUD$1.3 billion each year from ticket sales, media rights fees, TV advertisements, and sponsorships from the annual tournament.

AUD$1.37 million was earned from March Madness in 2019, which was equated to 90% of the NCAA’s annual revenue.

This is despite the players receiving zero income from the tournament, due to regulations preventing college athletes from making a profit from their sport, since they have existing scholarships to study at their respective universities.

Approximately 96% of the money earned by the NCAA is distributed through their member schools.

It is the only form of payment for teams that changes depending on their performance in the tournaments.

In the men’s tournament specifically, the NCAA’s ‘basketball fund’ was AUD$222 million.

Every time a school plays a game, its conference receives a payout calculated in ‘units’ of roughly AUD$366,000.

By reaching the final game, a team would earn five units.

Units are not awarded for the National Championship game, however.

Naturally, the larger a conference and the more teams it has represented in the tournament, the larger its payout by the conclusion of it.

The NCAA requests conference to divide funds earned equally between its schools.

Larger conferences tend to split earnings equally, whilst smaller conferences often depend on earnings to cover their own administrative costs, before providing money to their school members.

The financial impact of the tournament also goes beyond the NCAA, with 50 million Americans betting a combined AUD$11.2 billion throughout the tournament annually.

In another vein, a study from Challenger, Gray & Christmas found over 75 million employees spend roughly half an hour of company time filling out and updating their ‘March Madness brackets’ each day during the tournament, costing their employers more than $13 billion each year.

The sheer popularity of March Madness and other tournaments has seen US college sports develop into an international success.

This week, the Pac-12 conference has come to an agreement to create a streaming channel in the United Kingdom.

The Pac-12 Conference is based in the western United States, and participate in 24 sports at the NCAA Division I level.

Their new deal with the SportsTribal platform in the UK will see the first overseas launch of their Pac-12 Insider programming.

It will include live events, football highlights, basketball archive matches, and behind-the-scenes stories.

Pac-12 Networks vice president of distribution, Henry Watson, said it is a promising time for collegiate sports globally.

“SportsTribal is a perfect fit for Pac-12 Insider and we are excited to provide some of the best Pac-12 Networks content to fans across the pond,” Watson said.

“With so many college sports fans feeling energised by March Madness, the timing couldn’t be better to increase the reach and accessibility of our Pac-12 content to an even greater international audience,” he said.