March Madness generates billions of dollars—from advertising revenue to ticket sales—but the NCAA is not the only one taking home cash.
- March Madness is the primary source of income for the NCAA. In the 2021-2022 season, the NCAA brought in $1.14 billion in revenue—almost $1 billion of that came from March Madness.
- Thirteen years ago, the NCAA signed a $10.8 billion deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting. That deal was renewed in 2016 for another $8.8 billion, USA Today reports.
- This year, the NCAA has set aside a $170 million fund for the participating schools called the “Basketball Performance Fund.”
- Exactly how those funds are distributed is somewhat complicated. Teams earn “units” for their conference by playing games in the tournament. The fund is distributed based on conferences’ performances over the last six years.
- Just by making the tournament, conferences can earn significant revenue over six years, The Washington Post reports.
Why it’s news
Millions of sports fans and non-sports fans across the country will click on CBS Saturday and Monday nights to watch the Final Four—the semi-finals and the finals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Many of them will have filled in a tournament bracket, placing guesses and bets on which of the first 67 teams will make their way to this final weekend. Tens of millions will be wagered.
But for the colleges whose teams are represented, playing in March Madness is more than bragging rights—in fact, for smaller schools, it can account for significant revenue and advertising to potential students. The winnings are valuable to smaller conferences needing income to cover their expenses.
Aside from the revenue given to the conferences, college athletes more recently have the opportunity to make money from tournament exposure. The players still cannot earn money from playing in the game, but a 2022 rule change allows the players to sign endorsement deals, a potential source of income for top players.
Shortly after the rule change took effect, some of the more famous players received five- or six-figure endorsement deals, but more commonly, the thousands of student athletes received endorsements from local businesses and restaurants, Business Insider reports.
Unlike professional athletes, college players may not be household names. However, setting the stage for future endeavors with more minor endorsements could help the students in the long run if they plan to continue their athletic careers. Even small endorsements for college players can mean a big difference in their income level.