Men’s Tourney Made $864.6M Last Year, Women’s Lost $2.8M

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The NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship budget for the 2018-19 season was $28 million — almost twice as much as the women’s budget.

Information provided by the NCAA to ESPN on Friday shows the men’s tournament brought in a total net income of $864.6 million that season, while the women’s event lost $2.8 million — the largest loss of any NCAA championship.

The NCAA said its championship budgets are determined and approved each year, but this year’s tournament budgets were determined last June but have been completely changed because of the pandemic, ESPN reports.

The NCAA said it won’t know the 2021 championship totals until it’s over.

ESPN states it’s estimated to cost $14 million to create the men’s “bubble” experience, including COVID-19 testing, and $16 million for the women’s bubble — both men’s and women’s each pay about $2 million in testing.

The men’s tournament budget for the 2018-19 season was $28 million, while the women’s was $14.5 million.

“This year’s women’s tournament, which is taking place in San Antonio, is unique because typically the women’s first- and second-round games are played on campus and hosted by the higher-seeded team,” ESPN reports. “That format was agreed upon in 2014 to help grow fan interest and attendance.”

All 32 first- and second-round games are played at neutral sites and result in additional expenses for the men’s tournament. The men’s tournament also features four more teams and an additional round, known as the First Four.

The NCAA said the savings made by the reduced expenses for those games as the biggest component explaining a large chunk of the discrepancy in the budgets, the article states.

In the information provided to ESPN, the organization specifically details a difference of $7.1 million:

  • $2.7 million in travel.
    • Only seven men’s teams drove to games, while 16 women’s host teams didn’t travel for the first and second rounds and another 16 drove.
  • $1.7 million in per diem.
    • The NCAA said per diem rates, even in high-cost cities, are the same for men and women.
    • With 16 women’s teams hosting games in the first two rounds. The NCAA said there was savings in costs for food and hotel expenses.
  • $1.1 million for an additional round.
    • The men’s tournament pays for the First Four, which the women’s tournament doesn’t include.
  • $1.6 million for facilities.
    • The men’s Final Four includes additional seats and costs to convert a football stadium into a basketball arena.
    • The costs for women’s basketball build-outs are generally less than $20,000.

Information provided by the NCAA also shows a sharp contrast in total revenue. The men generated $917.8 million, including media and ticket revenue, while women generated $15.1 million, including media and ticket revenue.

Total attendance accounts for some of the disparity, as the men’s basketball tournament had 690,000 fans, while the women’s tournament had 275,000 fans.

These championships also generate more revenue than expenses and help cover the costs of other championships.

Because the NCAA is a private organization that does not directly receive federal aid on behalf of students, it is not subject to Title IX.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs receiving Federal financial assistance.

“Athletics are considered an integral part of an institution’s education program and are therefore covered by this law,” the U.S. Department of Education’s website states.

NCAA President Mark Emmert said the organization will continue to address material and impactful differences between the men’s and women’s championships.

“We must continue to make sure we are doing all we can to support gender equity in sports,” he said.

Emmert said the NCAA is evaluating its current and previous resource allocation to each championship, so there is a clear understanding of costs, spend and revenue.

“To assist the NCAA in this effort, we are retaining [a] law firm … which has significant experience in Title IX and gender equity issues, to evaluate our practices and policies and provide recommendations on steps we can take to get better,” he said.

Emmert said the NCAA hopes to have a preliminary report complete in April and a final report complete in the summer.

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


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  1. PLEASE…PLEASE NCAA, don’t go woke on this!!! Sorry, but, other than family and close friends, nobody cares all that much about women’s sports. It’s not that they’re not any good…the women are getting better by the year, but let’s get real here…..the top boy’s high school basketball and soccer teams would beat the best WNBA and WMLS teams without much of a problem….and quoting Ben Shapiro….my facts don’t care about your feelings!!!! Men’s sports brings in 100x what any women’s sport does for a school.

  2. WBB should be treated like travel ball is. They should have to pay for their individual travel and play in open air parks where it is mostly free. Then when they break even start spending. Men’s football and basketball pays for all the rest of the athletic department, so yes! Sit down and shut up Pink Haired Rapinoe

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