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Lack of March Madness means much less revenue distribution from NCAA to D1 schools

We don’t typically discuss college basketball on College Football Talk. We have College Basketball Talk to handle that stuff for you guys. But the COVID-19 pandemic taking away the entire NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament this spring will have a direct impact on all Division 1 schools that could impact one fo your favorite college football programs.

On Thursday, the NCAA Board of Governors unanimously voted on adjusting its annual revenue distribution for D1 schools to $225 million. While that is not exactly pocket change, the number came down from a previously budgeted $600 million for revenue distributions.


“We are living in unprecedented times not only for higher education but for the entire nation and around the globe as we face the COVID-19 public health crisis,” Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University, said in a released statement. “As an Association, we must acknowledge the uncertainties of our financial situation and continue to make thoughtful and prudent decisions on how we can assist conferences and campuses in supporting student-athletes now and into the future.”

The men’s basketball tournament is the NCAA’s top revenue source with lucrative television deals and ticket sales. But the shutting down of the tournament along with all other spring athletic activities in the wake of the coronavirus took a toll on the NCAA’s coffers. That will force the NCAA to distribute its revenue shares to D1 schools by tapping $50 million in the NCAA reserves and the proceeds from a $270 million event cancellation insurance policy.

The reduced distributions will be more significant and perhaps troubling for D2 and D3 schools. Those lower divisions were already set to receive a much smaller slice of the NCAA pie, but these reductions could be even more of a problem for schools already working on limited budgets as it is.

  • Division 1 distribution per D1 conference: $53.6 million
  • Division 2 distribution per D2 conference: $13.9 million (down $30 million from 2019)
  • Division 3 distribution per D3 conference: $10.7 million (down $22 million from 2019)

The coronavirus is proving to be quite a costly pandemic in a variety of ways. With the NCAA forced to adjusting its budget so drastically, expect similar reactions from conferences and universities.

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