OPINION: March Madness is a profitless endeavor

Eric Miller | Online Sports Editor


March Madness. Two words in the English vernacular that can stir up hundreds of memories. From Laettner’s game winner at the buzzer to Florida Gulf Coast’s Sweet 16 run – and who could forget Georgia State’s father-son team of Ron and RJ Hunter shocking the nation?

For their upset of number three seed Baylor, Georgia State, a school few had heard of before the 2015 NCAA tournament, received hours upon hours of (well-deserved) national publicity. But few people would know that Georgia State’s 2014-15 men’s basketball program did not make the university a single dime.

The Panthers took in $1,968,343 in 2014-15. A nice chunk of change for a Sun Belt school that has been to the NCAA tournament just three times in 52 years. But Georgia State reported that of the $1,968,343 they made, they made $0.

The Panthers are not alone. Of the 68 teams in last years NCAA tournament, 24 teams reported they either lost money or just broke even. The Butler Bulldogs of the Big East did manage to turn a profit. The Bulldogs were $1 to the green; they made $4,065,932 gross revenue and spent $4,065,931 worth of it. Leaving a measly dollar to spend on maybe a Pepsi, the official soft drink sponsor of Butler University.

While the NCAA is raking in the sponsorship dollars and coaches receive bonuses of $400K, $800K or more in bonuses for tournament wins, athletic departments are struggling to keep programs moving. An extra month tacked on to the end of a college basketball season means an extra month of travelling, sometimes cross country, and an extra month of missed classes for student-athletes.

I’m in no way saying the NCAA tournament is a bad thing, but maybe when the broadcast company that produces the tournament is paying the NCAA $14.8 billion over 10 years to broadcast the tournament, more than 65 percent of teams in said tournament should turn a profit.