Report: Canceled 2020 March Madness Cost NCAA $800 Million

That loss has alarming ramifications

March Madness 2019
The Auburn Tigers band plays in the second half of the NCAA Midwest Regional Final game between the Auburn Tigers and Kentucky Wildcats on March 31, 2019.
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There are few organizations that haven’t faced some sort of financial losses as a result of the ongoing pandemic. In the world of sports, where live audiences can bring in a substantial amount of revenue, this has been especially notable. The pandemic has caused the value of NHL franchises to drop and for MLS to incur $1 billion in lost revenue. Now, a new report details just how much canceling last year’s March Madness cost the NCAA, and the number was similarly massive.

A new report from Sportico notes that the NCAA lost $800 million, based on its financial statements, due to the cancellation of the tournament. That’s not quite as catastrophic as it initially appears, as the NCAA had insurance in place for the tournament, resulting in a payment of $270 million. Sportico’s article notes that the NCAA has a similar policy in place for this year’s tournament.

The largest losses came from broadcast payments, which fell from $804 million in 2019 to $113.1 million last year. The NCAA had expected to distribute $600 million in revenue back to member schools in 2020; after the cancellation, the amount ended up being $225 million.

Another recent article explores the ramifications of those reduced payments in greater detail. The lack of revenue for March Madness and other tournaments could have adverse effects on the revenue colleges have on hand for their athletic programs — which suggests a worrying spiral, both for basketball and for other college sports overall.

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