Duke’s Coach K: NCAA Can’t Afford Another March Madness Cancellation

    • The cancellation of the 2020 men’s tournament reportedly cost the NCAA $375 million.
    • Krzyzewski, often called Coach K, says the association should hold a 2021 tournament, regardless of when.

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Duke head men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t think the NCAA can afford another canceled postseason tournament, he said on Aug. 18’s episode of Keyshawn, JWII & Zubin on ESPN Radio. 

On Aug. 17, the association said it expects to have a decision in mid-September on whether the 2020-21 Division I basketball season can start on time — it’s currently slated to begin Nov. 10. The men’s postseason tournament, which was canceled for the 2019-20 season, generates the vast majority of the NCAA’s revenue. 

Prior to the cancellation, the association was set to distribute a total of $600 million to over 1,200 schools across all divisions over the summer, but reportedly only distributed $225 million, amounting to a $375 million loss for schools. 

“I think this is a time for our sport to move forward and have a different structure. We’re the thing that the NCAA is most concerned about because men’s college basketball and the tournament produces 98% or more of the money for the NCAA, not college football or any other sport,” Krzyzewski said. “We need to have the tournament. We can’t have it where two years in a row you do not have the NCAA tournament.”

Krzyzewski, who is often called Coach K, went on to applaud the NBA’s efforts, and said the NCAA should just make sure there is a tournament at some point next season, pointing to the NBA’s success with the bubble season as a potential path for college basketball.

NCAA President Mark Emmert floated the idea of creating a bubble-like environment when he announced the cancellation of all Division I fall sports championships last week. 

“I think that’s where you should start. Make sure we have the tournament, doesn’t make any difference when it is,”  Krzyzewski said. “Because we don’t even know when the NBA season is going to be next year. And we should look at them to see how they navigate the waters going forward. They’ve navigated it really well with the bubble.”  

According to the NCAA, broadcast and marketing rights to the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship are worth $875 million, and the event brings in $177.9 million in ticket sales alone. 

Much of the revenue generated is redistributed across the NCAA’s divisions and sports.

$222 million goes to sports sponsorship and scholarship funds, $168.8 million goes to the Division I Basketball Performance Fund, $153.8 goes to various costs associated with Division I championships and $86.6 million goes to the Student Assistance Fund. Other portions of the money go to athlete insurance, academic services, and communications, while $53.3 million goes to Division II and $35.2 million to Division III initiatives.