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Pandemic cancellations force NCAA to cut distribution $375 million

The NCAA had been scheduled to distribute $600 million to more than 300 Division I schools from April to June. Instead, it will hand out far less, thanks mostly to the loss of the men’s basketball tournament.

The cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has hit member schools in the pocketbook.
The cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has hit member schools in the pocketbook.
Nati Harnik/AP

The NCAA will distribute $225 million to its Division I members in June, a whopping $375 million less than had been budgeted after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the big-money men’s basketball tournament.

Ohio State President Michael Drake, chairman of the NCAA board of governors, said the association will undertake cost-cutting measures to be determined in the upcoming weeks.

“The association has prepared for a financial catastrophic event like the one we face now,” Drake said Thursday. “While we certainly have challenges ahead, we would be in a far worse position had it not been for this long-standing, forward-focused planning.”

The NCAA had been scheduled to distribute $600 million to more than 300 Division I schools from April to June. Instead, it will hand out far less.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told reporters his 10-member league would have expected about $24 million from NCAA distributions. Instead, he estimated, the Big 12 will receive about $10 million.

The NCAA pulled in more than $1 billion in revenue last year, including $867.5 million from the television and marketing rights for the Division I men’s basketball tournament. But March Madness was canceled March 19, a week before the first round was scheduled to begin.

The NCAA said $50 million will come from its reserve fund while a $270 million event cancellation insurance policy will help pay off the remaining distribution. Some $53.6 million will be distributed to member schools through the Equal Conference Fund, which is split equally among Division I basketball playing conferences.

“Our priority is to ensure that we are able to support student-athletes and continue to provide opportunity as broadly as possible,” said University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, the Division I board chairman.

The remainder will be proportionally distributed through other funds.

Division II is projected to receive $13.9 million, $30 million less than last year. Division III is expected to receive $10.7 million, $22 million less than last year.