• Loading stock data...
Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Real March Madness: The Issue of Profit Sharing with College Athletes

By: Trace Welch, @twelch88

Every year, from the middle of March until the beginning of April, the most celebrated tournament in North American Sports takes place. Sixty-eight Division I college basketball teams battle in a single elimination, winner-take-all tournament to crown a national champion. This tournament is filled with rim-shattering dunks, aesthetically pleasing passes, incomprehensible upsets, and thrilling finishes. A natural attractor of advertising revenue, as well as merchandising and broadcasting contracts, the annual NCAA Tournament is an event that brings in a huge amount of revenue for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. This annual tournament has only been increasing in popularity and viewership, which in turn has raised the revenue of the event to all-time highs. The NCAA marketing and sponsorship departments deserve massive credit for building the event into the revenue generator that it is; however, with all of the money that the NCAA Tournament brings in, I believe that it is fair to ask the question, why do the athletes themselves not get a “piece of the pie?”

The NCAA tournament and its broadcasting partner, Turner Broadcasting, have created a model that has increased the popularity and viewership of the NCAA tournament every year. In 2013, tournament ratings hit a 19-year high, averaging 10.7 million viewers, while the national championship game drew in 23.4 million viewers.[1] With such high viewership numbers and rising popularity, the NCAA Tournament has become a cash cow for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In 2013, the NCAA tournament raised $1.15 billion in advertising revenue alone;[2] this number does not even take into account the money raised from merchandise sales, concession sales, and ticket sales. When adding everything up together you can understand just how profitable the tournament is for the NCAA. The only issue that I have is that without the athletes, there would be no NCAA tournament, which would be a seismic blow to NCAA revenue. Although the NCAA makes such a large amount off of advertising revenue, their actual profit is not as high, as they are responsible for the transportation, housing, and other administrative costs to support the tournaments and the teams competing. However, when balancing the revenue and costs, the NCAA makes a sizeable profit from the event.

The NCAA is required to share some of its profit from the event with the respective conferences and teams that take part in the tournament. For example, the NCAA’s basketball fund will dish out an estimated $194 million to Division I conferences this year.[3] Each conference receives a different amount that is based on the performances of the teams representing the conference in the tournament. However, the athletes that are competing and driving the viewership will not directly see any of this money. Although supporters of the current NCAA model may argue that the benefit of the athletes comes in terms of their scholarships and stipends, the amount of benefit to those competing in the NCAA tournament pales in comparison to the large profits that the NCAA is generating from the event. There is no perfect way to tackle this issue, but in my next weekly whip around I will lay out some possible solutions that could rectify the situation.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2014/03/20/march-madness-ratings-and-revenue-keep-reaching-new-heights/

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2014/03/20/march-madness-ratings-and-revenue-keep-reaching-new-heights/

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2014/03/20/how-a-single-ncaa-tournament-win-is-worth-1-6-million/

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Emmanuel Acho Set To Land Solo Show on Fox Sports

Rising star Emmanuel Acho is poised to land his own solo show at Fox Sports, say sources. He currently co-hosts FS1’s ‘Speak for Yourself.’

Varsity Partners Steps Up the Sponsorship Game with TBT Teams

TBT has thrived on innovation and forward thinking through its seven year existence —including being the first indoor U.S. sporting event to return to action during the pandemic with a 24 team bubble in Columbus,Ohio —brand sponsorships for teams was the next opportunity for growth.

Executive Roundtable: Putting Employees First

Best Employers in Sports, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Dolphins, remote work, diversity, inclusion, COVID-19, leadership, career development

Putting Fans At The Center of Your Data Strategy Post-COVID

The Portland Trail Blazers are one example of an organization offering a more personalized customer experience thanks to data.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

MLB, NBA, NHL Broadcasting Future Goes to Court


Featured Today

Michael Block signs autographs on the 18th hole during day three of practice for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

‘I Prefer It This Way’: How Life Works for PGA Club Pros

Here’s how life works for the qualifiers at golf’s second major.
February 5, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; The grounds of the Capitol Building empty out following the conclusion of President Donald Trump's State of the Union speech on February 5, 2019.
May 18, 2024

‘A Breathtaking Lobbying Campaign’: The NCAA’s Sophisticated Effort to Save Amateurism

Inside the carefully coordinated, multimillion-dollar operation to end the athletes’ rights era.
May 14, 2024

The WNBA Was Forged in Houston. Why Won’t It Go Back There?

Houston’s a perfect fit for expansion. The league isn’t considering it yet.
May 9, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) stands with the team during the national anthem on Thursday, May 9, 2024, during the preseason game against the Atlanta Dream at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
May 12, 2024

‘Perfect Storm’: The Rise of Local WNBA Broadcast Pacts

With national attention reaching new heights, regional coverage could dictate the future.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Live Nation
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers

How Sportradar and the NBA are Partnering to Fuel Fan Engagement

How Sportradar and the NBA are utilizing data to enhance fan engagement
April 25, 2023

Oakland A’s Could Share Stadium with Triple-A Team

The Oakland A’s could be searching for a place to play.

MLS’ Chris Schlosser on Pioneering the Digital-First Sports League with AI

Chris Schlosser discusses MLS’s growth and digital transformation.

Major League Rugby’s Vision for American Rugby

How Major League Rugby is leading the Rugby renaissance in the U.S.
Titans stadium.
April 19, 2023

Titans’ Historic New $2.1B Stadium One Step Closer to Reality

About $1.26B in public money would go toward the new stadium.
May 20, 2022

Crypto Crash Impact on Sports Sponsorships

Prior to the last two weeks, cryptocurrencies, NFTs, exchanges, and a host…
March 11, 2022

The Evolution of Consumer Wearables

The wearables market has seen incredible amounts of growth since the onset of the pandemic. Trends like telemedicine and remote patient monitoring have helped spur adoption and inspired new consumer products that allow for the tracking and collection of biometric data.
February 11, 2022

The Role of Live Sports in Streaming

The streaming wars have intensified as the field is as competitive as ever. One way to retain customers? The answer might be live sports.