March Madness or Money Madness?


Markus Spiske

The March Madness tournament is a nation-wide event that occurs every year in the second half of division one, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball season. The excitement for the March Madness tournament is like no other. On average, a whopping 70 million brackets are filled out each year to see who can create the perfect bracket for the tournament. Even though participants who make brackets may be losing money to bets, this tournament is truly the bread and butter for the NCAA. The NCAA rakes in millions of dollars each year. The question is just how does this organization make so much money?

The NCAA has various of ways to bring in the dough. This includes revenue from media rights fees, ticket sales, corporate sponsorships and television ads anchored around the three-week tournament. The organization also is involved with the $9.2 billion that will be gambled on the tournament. The NCAA collects cash from broadcasting rights. In 2010, the NCAA signed a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting. This deal will keep the tournament on the networks until 2032.

Another important question dealing with the profits from the tournament is how the money is divided up between the 68 teams affiliated with the NCAA. For each game played by a team, they will receive roughly $1.67 million. If a team makes it all the way to the championship game, the team can earn as much as $8.3 million. Although the team as a whole makes an enormous amount of money, the players on the other hand, receive nothing. The debating question that has been circulating through the NCAA Men’s Basketball program is whether or not these players should be getting paid for playing in the March Madness Tournament, but that’s a whole different story…

Once the money has been divided up between the divisions and important employees, the NCAA must pay their expenses. They must pay the expenses for Division I, II, and III championships, NITs, and programs, an association-wide program, and the expenses for management and general costs. Even though these expenses might be higher than the normal organization, the NCAA is still bringing in millions of dollars each year. In fact, the NCAA Men’s Basketball program is second to the National Football League (NFL) in revenue. In 2017, NCAA made around $1 billion, whereas the NFL made around $8.6 billion for the entire league. That gap may be large, but the NCAA program is right behind the NFL.  

The 2019, the March Madness tournament began March 21st with the first round of games. Millions of people around the country will be tuning in to see if their team, and more importantly, to see if their bracket will win. The NCAA Men’s Basketball program is one of America’s favorite sports program and the tournament gets the fans excited each year. In fact, in 2018, there were 69.7 million impressions on the tournament as stated by the NCAA. As long as the games are televised and the games are interesting, fans and people all around the country will continue to participate in March Madness and the bracket making, and the NCAA will continue their own money madness of a business.