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Volume 25 No. 63
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NCAA Surpasses $1B In Annual Revenue For First Time In FY '17

CBS/Turner's broadcast rights for March Madness are one of the main revenue generators for the NCAA
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The NCAA had close to $1.1B in annual revenue during FY ‘17, the “first time the association has surpassed” the $1B mark, according to Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY. The NCAA “came close” to passing the $1B threshold “two of its past three fiscal years.” A little more than “half of the growth” from ‘16 came from “increases in TV and marketing fees” that totaled $821M, revenue from championship events and investment income. The remainder -- more than $26M -- “came from the NCAA’s sale of its interest in an enterprise that ... helps athletics departments and sports leagues with scheduling, referee assignments and various payments.” On the expense side, the NCAA “returned to a normal set of payouts” a year after recording a $200M one-time distribution to D-I members and the $209M settlement of a lawsuit “brought on behalf of tens of thousands of college athletes who received traditional sports scholarships rather than a new version that covers the full cost of attending school” (USA TODAY, 3/8). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Eben Novy-Williams wrote the milestone comes as the NCAA faces "unprecedented scrutiny over its business model, in which some university athletic departments make" more than $100M annually while student-athletes are compensated solely with scholarships (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/7). SB NATION's Alex Kirshner writes almost all of the NCAA's money "comes from Turner, which pays the NCAA a king's ransom for broadcast rights to March Madness every year" (SBNATION.com, 3/8). ESPN's Jay Bilas tweeted, "Remember, college sports doesn’t make any money. Oh, and this is just the NCAA Tournament. The 'members' make billions more from media deals, apparel deals, licensing deals, etc. And, the money keeps going UP" (TWITTER.com, 3/7). 

RICH GETTING RICHER? Author John Feinstein said, "This is just part of what college athletics is: the rich getting richer, and those who are making them rich not getting richer." Feinstein: "Every major college athletic department is a 501(c)(3) and that's how they make their money and get as rich as they do. ... The charity that these athletic departments give money to is themselves. They take the money, they're not taxed on it, and then they spend it to build new facilities or whatever it might be on themselves." It is "one of the great scams in the history of our country." NBC Sports Bay Area’s Ray Ratto said, "I'm pretty impressed that a nonprofit made $104 million of profit" ("The Happy Hour," NBC Sports Bay Area, 3/7). But Danny Kannell tweeted, "Be wary of the 'NCAA makes billions off the players' tweets. Or else you might miss the operating expenses of $956 million. It costs a lot to provide what they do."

ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL: YAHOO SPORTS' Pete Thamel noted Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on Tuesday "recommended" NCAA Senior VP/College Basketball Dan Gavitt "as a 'czar'" for the sport. He also "mocked former NBA players who made millions who go on TV and complain about college players not getting paid." Boeheim: "I don't feel sorry for Chris Webber." Perhaps the "most eye-popping was an open endorsement of Gavitt." He said the "idea of a 'czar' or commissioner of college basketball has gained some conversational traction behind the scenes." Boeheim: “In a perfect world. That would be Danny Gavitt. He’d have control over what we could do (in college basketball). Danny will listen to everyone and come up with stuff. He’d be perfect." A czar or commissioner is "one of the ideas presumed to be kicked around by the commission headed by Condoleezza Rice, which is expected to give its findings in April." Boeheim said that he has been "encouraged by the ideas he's heard" from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver -- "to a point." However, Boeheim "mocked the notion" of the G League "becoming an alternative to high-end college basketball." Boeheim: "These kids don't want to go to the G League." Boeheim "suggested" that USA Basketball, the NCAA and NBA could "run summer basketball for around 400 players, not just elite ones." Boeheim "drew the line," much like NCAA President Mark Emmert has, at "directly paying players because of budget reasons" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/7).