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At Men’s March Madness, $170M Is Up For Grabs

  • Part of the NCAA’s annual revenue distributions is awarded based on which makes it into the Big Dance.
  • The NCAA has been blasted for not having a similar performance fund for the women’s tournament.
The UNCA Bulldogs gathered with fans to watch the March Madness selections show at Kimmel Arena
Angela Wilhelm/Asheville Citizen Times

Success in the NCAA Division I men’s tournament can help teams can earn their conference a slice of a nine-figure pie.

That’s because part of the NCAA’s annual revenue distributions are awarded based on which teams make it into the Big Dance — and how far they advance. 

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In 2023, the NCAA will send $170 million to schools from the “Basketball Performance Fund,” and $10 million for participating in the tournaments. The total NCAA revenue distribution for 2023 will top $638 million, according to NCAA documents.

Here’s how the distribution works:

  • Each conference earns a distribution for eligibility in the men’s and women’s tournaments — conferences are each awarded one automatic bid for their conference tournament champion.
  • Then, conferences receive what the NCAA calls a “unit” for each of its teams that makes the tournament beyond the conference champion’s automatic bid. The Big Ten will earn the most of these units this year after qualifying eight teams.
  • Conferences receive additional units for each team that advances. No units are awarded for the championship round.
  • Units are averaged on a six-year rolling basis. 

However, the NCAA has been blasted for not having a similar performance fund for the women’s tournament. Experts have said the lack of a women’s fund disincentivizes schools to invest in women’s basketball, creating equity issues.

The governing body is in the process of considering how to amend the distribution plan.

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