Need That Money

March Madness and Beyond: Understanding the NCAA’s Profitability

March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year for college sports fans. The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is a beloved and highly anticipated event that captivates the nation and generates billions of dollars in revenue for the NCAA.

In this article, we will explore the revenue streams that make March Madness such a lucrative event for the NCAA, how they spend the money they earn, and why it’s important to understand the financial aspect of this beloved tournament.

NCAA Earns Billions from March Madness

March Madness is a huge moneymaker for the NCAA, generating billions of dollars in revenue each year. At the heart of the NCAA’s revenue stream is the TV rights fees for the NCAA Tournament.

Networks like CBS and Turner Broadcasting pay the NCAA billions of dollars for the right to broadcast the games over a period of several years. This contract is renewed periodically, ensuring that the NCAA continues to earn a significant amount of money from broadcasting the tournament every year.

TV broadcasters, in turn, make even more money through advertising during the tournament, which they rely on to recoup their investment. But the NCAA’s financial success during March Madness doesn’t stop at TV rights fees and broadcaster advertising.

The NCAA also profits from ticket sales at the tournament venues, corporate partnerships with companies that sponsor the tournament, and licensing agreements that allow companies to sell NCAA-branded merchandise. All of these revenue streams add up to a vast and impressive sum, making March Madness one of the most financially successful sporting events in the world.

How NCAA Spends Tournament Money

Given the enormous sums of money the NCAA makes during March Madness, it’s natural to wonder how they put it to use. In fact, the NCAA distributes a significant percentage of the money it earns to its member schools and student-athletes.

This money is used to advance the NCAA’s mission of providing equitable opportunities for all student-athletes, regardless of their background or socio-economic status. This includes investing in facilities, scholarships, and other resources that help student-athletes succeed both academically and athletically.

The NCAA also uses its funds to cover administrative costs and other expenses. This includes expenses like legal services, insurance, and travel costs for NCAA officials who attend the tournament.

Additionally, the NCAA uses some of its earnings to support other initiatives, such as the NCAA’s year-round educational programs, which help to develop student-athletes’ skills and prepare them for life after college sports.

Why Financial Transparency is Important

The NCAA’s financial success during March Madness is impressive, but it’s important to understand that this success comes with a responsibility to use the money effectively. As students, parents, alumni, and fans invest in NCAA sports programs and the tournament itself, they expect transparency in how the organization spends its money.

Understanding how the NCAA uses the funds generated by March Madness is essential to promoting financial accountability and ensuring that the organization’s resources are being used in the best interests of the student-athletes. In conclusion, March Madness generates significant revenue for the NCAA, and this money is distributed to member schools and student-athletes to support their athletic and academic endeavors.

This financial success also comes with a responsibility to use the money effectively, which is why financial transparency is essential. By understanding the complex financial structures that support this beloved tournament, we can ensure that the NCAA continues to provide equitable opportunities for all student-athletes, long into the future.

Basketball is Key Money-maker for NCAA

When it comes to generating revenue for the NCAA, basketball is the powerhouse sport thanks to March Madness. In contrast to football, where the NCAA does not profit from the College Football Playoff, the March Madness tournament generates billions of dollars for the organization.

According to the NCAA, more than 90% of their budget comes from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament broadcast rights deal with CBS and Turner Sports.

March Madness is a massive event that captivates the nation for several weeks, beginning with Selection Sunday and ending with the crowning of a national champion.

Networks broadcast every game, ensuring maximum exposure for the NCAA and its sponsors. This frenzy of viewership leads to incentive advertising deals, which generate considerable revenue as well.

On top of this, the NCAA profits from licensing March Madness products and ticket sales to the tournament itself, generating millions of dollars in revenue.

While basketball is the NCAA’s most significant revenue stream, football remains a popular sport and revenue generator.

However, the NCAA does not make much money off college football. Instead, the revenue generated from football goes directly to schools and conferences.

This is because the College Football Playoff operates independently from the NCAA, and its TV contract is separate from any NCAA agreements.

College Football Playoff Operates Independently from NCAA

The College Football Playoff, responsible for selecting the top four ranked college football teams to compete in the national championship game, operates independently from the NCAA. Like March Madness, the championship game generates significant revenue from ticket sales and TV contracts.

Despite this, the NCAA does not profit from these events.

However, the NCAA does regulate college football in other ways.

For example, the NCAA sets rules for eligibility, recruiting, and scholarship limits. They also enforce these regulations through an investigative team, which allows the NCAA to maintain the integrity of the sport.

Still, the NCAA relies on revenue from basketball to operate, with college football serving mainly as a way for schools to generate revenue.

Only a Few Championships Generate Profit for NCAA

While March Madness is the NCAA’s crown jewel, generating millions of dollars in revenue each year, most championships the NCAA holds are not profitable. According to a 2016 report by USA Today, only five Division I championships generate a profit: basketball, baseball, ice hockey, men’s lacrosse, and wrestling.

The rest of the championships funded by the NCAA are non-profit events, including women’s basketball, soccer, and volleyball, among others. While they are non-profit events, each championship is still an integral part of the NCAA’s mission of providing opportunities and support to student-athletes.

The money earned from revenue-generating championships, such as basketball, baseball, and hockey, is used to support non-profit championships. The NCAA also invests in programs that support the overall health and wellbeing of the student-athlete.

These programs include health and safety initiatives, compliance, and student-athlete leadership development.


March Madness is a financial powerhouse for the NCAA, generating millions of dollars in revenue through TV contracts, sponsorships, and ticket sales. The organization is heavily reliant on basketball to fund its operating budget with 90% of its income coming solely from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

While football also generates significant revenue, the NCAA does not profit directly from it as it operates independently from the organization. In contrast to basketball and a few other sports, most NCAA championships are non-profit events.

However, each championship is still an integral part of the NCAA’s mission to provide opportunities and support to student-athletes. The revenue from profitable championships goes towards supporting non-profit events and critical programs that support the well-being and success of college athletes.

Future Expansion of College Football Playoff

The College Football Playoff has been a staple of college football since its inception in 2014, with four top-ranked teams competing for the national championship. However, that is all set to change, as the College Football Playoff is planning to expand to a 12-team format in the future.

This expansion will bring significant changes to the college football landscape, including a potential increase in revenue and an alteration in how teams are selected.

College Football Playoff Expanding to 12 Teams

The College Football Playoff expansion proposal, which was announced in June 2021, would include the top six conference champions, plus six at-large teams. The four current playoff teams would receive a bye, while the eight remaining teams would compete in first-round games hosted by the higher-seeded team.

The six conference champions and six at-large teams would be selected by a committee. The expansion proposal is still in its early stages with several more steps to go through before it can be approved and implemented.

The potential expansion of the College Football Playoff would be groundbreaking for college football. It would allow more teams to compete for a national championship and give more teams an opportunity to showcase their talents on the biggest stage in college football.

This could lead to increased competition, more exciting games, and higher stakes, making college football even more popular among fans. This expansion could also generate significant excitement and revenue, as more teams would be invited to compete for a national championship.

Many more fans would tune in to watch first-round games, and the later rounds would become even more compelling, with more teams competing for the ultimate prize.

Estimated TV Package Could Exceed NCAA Tournament Contract

The expansion of the College Football Playoff could be a goldmine for TV contracts. The current College Football Playoff contract with ESPN is valued at approximately $470 million per season, which runs until 2026.

An expansion could yield a larger TV package, potentially exceeding the NCAA Tournament contract in value. According to Sports Business Journal, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament generates around $1.1 billion in revenue through its broadcast rights agreement with Turner and CBS.

As the College Football Playoff expands, it could potentially outpace that revenue source. Experts predict that a 12-team playoff format could generate as much as $2 billion per year in broadcast rights fees, primarily due to the increased number of games and teams involved.

The financial implications of this revenue could be significant, as it would provide a much-needed boost to the college football programs, especially smaller athletic departments. This additional revenue could allow schools to invest further in facilities and recruit high-profile coaches and players, ultimately leading to a more competitive situation.


The expansion of the College Football Playoff to a 12-team format could significantly alter the landscape of college football. This will provide more opportunities for teams to compete in the playoffs and potentially win a national championship while significantly increasing revenue through an estimated TV contract.

An expansion to 12 teams would not only bring more excitement to the fans, but it would provide a much-needed financial boost to college football programs, especially those who have smaller athletic departments. Finally, if the expansion gets through all the steps of approval, it will be interesting to see how the fans react to this new format.

In conclusion, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) relies heavily on basketball as its primary revenue source, with the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament generating billions of dollars. On the other hand, while often popular, college football is not a significant revenue generator for the NCAA.

The recent announcement of the expansion of the College Football Playoff to a 12-team format could provide a significant financial boost to college football programs and generate substantial revenue. The expansion of the format could enact changes in the related fields, and it will be interesting to see how fans react to the changes in the future.

However, it is essential to understand how the NCAA generates and spends its revenue to ensure a balanced approach that benefits the athletes and their schools.

Popular Posts