NCAA Returns to Pre-Pandemic Revenue Levels

    • After suffering hundreds of millions in losses due to the pandemic, the NCAA appears to have bounced back.
    • The governing body raked in $1.155 billion in revenue in 2021, audited financial statements show.

After suffering hundreds of millions of dollars in losses due to the pandemic, the NCAA appears to have bounced back. 

In the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2021, the governing body raked in $1.16 billion in revenue, audited financial statements show. 

That’s upward of $600 million more than the NCAA made in 2020 ($519 million) — and tops 2019 revenue ($1.118 billion).

A second major cash infusion from COVID-19 loss insurance and the return of the Division I men’s basketball tournament — played in a semi-bubble — aided the resuscitation.

  • The NCAA received $915.8 million in television and marketing rights fees.
  • Championship and NIT revenue brought in about $61 million.
  • Insurance for “reduced ticket sales and additional costs for COVID-19 precautions” topped $81 million.

As a result, the governing body was able to provide $613.4 million in distributions to Division I schools, slightly higher than in 2019. In 2020, schools received $246.3 million.

Looking Ahead

The NCAA’s largest revenue stream is its television rights — which it reports will only grow over the next several years.

It expects to receive $870 million from its contract with CBS/Turner this year, maxing out at $1.02 billion in 2026.

There’s also a deal with ESPN for 29 championships — including the Division I women’s basketball tournament — that should generate $43.5 million this year and up to $47 million in the contract’s final year in 2024. 

However, the NCAA gender equity review suggested these media rights could be worth millions more.