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NCAA considers deprioritising March Madness in D1 revenue distribution shakeup

Success outside of basketball to be given more weight in central funding model.

4 January 2023 Josh Sim

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  • Men’s basketball tournament performance currently sets annual revenue benchmark
  • Schools to receive share of US$638m next year
  • Transformation committee offers no update on athlete NIL rules

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is considering altering its revenue distribution model, as part of several recommendations proposed to help the college sports body modernise its business.

Under the current model, the NCAA’s annual revenue is distributed to division one institutions based on several benchmarks, including academic performance and sports sponsorships.

Next year the total for division one schools is set to be US$638 million, but the biggest pot of that is the US$171 million given out based on performance in the men’s basketball tournament. ‘March Madness’ is said to account for more than 85 per cent of the US$1 billion of the NCAA’s annual revenues.

Now, a report from the NCAA’s division one transformation committee, which is mainly comprised of college sports administrators, has now recommended that this system is changed in order to take into account success in other sporting competitions, including those involving women’s sports.

In 2021, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) commissioner Richard Ensor made the case for revenue distribution to factor in teams’ success in the women’s basketball tournament. He told USA Today: “The reason that’s [similar distribution for both tournaments] important is because it provides recognition on a campus, and within a conference, that the women’s game is an important element of our annual operations.

“It’s a measure of worth. It also allows coaches to get more resources directed on campus to their operations when they can show some return, through the revenue distribution, of the funds that are invested [in college sports teams].”

Other recommendations listed in the report included measures focused on improving the healthcare and welfare resources available to college athletes. An expansion in the number of schools competing in division one championships spanning multiple sports has also been proposed ahead of the 2023/24 season.

However, the report, sent to the division one board of directors, did not make any proposals covering the employment status of athletes. There were also no suggestions covering rules concerning their name, image or likeness (NIL).

‘The NCAA is prepared and eager to engage on these issues,’ committee co-chair and Ohio University athletic director, Julie Cromer, wrote in the report.

‘There’s no question that finding fair, sustainable, and equitable resolutions to each issue will be essential to division one’s future. We simply need a clear, stable framework under which to address them. Congress is the only entity that can grant that stability.’

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