How the Big East Made $20 Million in 17 Days


Win or lose, Villanova has already added over $8.5 million to the Big East’s coffers by making it to the title game of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Butler, Providence and Xavier have each brought more than $3.4 million back to the league by making it the Round of 32 and Seton Hall earned over $1.7 million just by being in the party for a day. This is the other side of winning in March that is so critical for the Big East. The 10 member schools that make up this configuration of the Big East conference have a lot in common as institutions, which is partly why they believe their marriage is made in heaven. Besides their love for basketball, the Big East member institutions don’t have the financial backing of their home state to help drive their athletic programs to championship heights.

Most of their funds come in the form of donations, a fundraising avenue that has grown exponentially at a school like Providence during Ed Cooley’s tenure as the head coach in Friartown. Another important boost to athletic budgets in the Big East is money shared from NCAA Tournament units. These units are awarded to a team for making the NCAA Tournament and winning games. For example, Providence got a unit for making the field as an at-large and they earned an additional unit by beating USC in the First Round. Their 2 units go into a pool with the rest of the Big East’s units earned by the other 4 teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Each unit possesses a dollar figure that the league will receive from the NCAA’s “Basketball Fund”, a pool made up of money the NCAA gets from their TV deals and other revenues associated with the NCAA Tournament each year. In 2015-16, the NCAA planned to distrubute $205 million from the “Basketball Fund”, which accounted for 37% of the $544 million available for distrubution that year.

Year

Estimated Unit Value

2017

 $    267,320.00

2018

 $    274,003.00

2019

 $    280,853.08
2020

 $    287,874.40

2021

 $    295,071.26

2022

 $    302,448.04

Villanova’s run to the Final Four earned 5 units — units are not awarded beyond the Final Four — with the value of a unit in 2017 expected to be around $267,320. A unit’s value increases each year and the payouts are done on a rolling basis over the course of 6 years. That means that the Big East’s 12 units earned during the 2016 NCAA Tournament are likely to be worth more than $20 million by the time the final payout is made in 2022. An equal distribution of the money means each school would get more than $2 million between 2017 and 2022, which is about 50% as much as each school gets from the TV deal with Fox annually. In other words, this money will be a nice boost to each school’s athletic budget over the next several years.

Year

Estimated Value of 12 Units

2017

 $    3,207,840.00

2018

 $    3,288,036.00

2019

 $    3,370,236.90
2020

 $    3,454,492.82

2021

 $    3,540,855.14

2022

 $    3,629,376.52

Total Value

 $  20,490,837.39

Winning games in the NCAA Tournament was critical for the Big East’s perception as a viable power conference for men’s basketball. Villanova getting all the way to the final night of the season certainly made people realize that the need for a requiem for the Big East may have been premature. It also has the added benefit of paying off in real dollars and cents. The league has managed to get 40%, 60% and 50% of the league into the NCAA Tournament in the first 3 years of this current configuration. Disappointing showings the first 2 years were problematic, but Jay Wright’s crew lopping the head off a Big 12 Goliath en route to a date with an ACC blueblood has certainly made up for the failings of years 1 and 2. The future looks bright for this major basketball conference and each league member will have some additional funds to ensure that times remain good in Big East land.

Year

Equal Share/School

2017

 $               320,784.00

2018

 $               328,803.60

2019

 $               337,023.69
2020

 $               345,449.28

2021

 $               354,085.51

2022

 $               362,937.65

See how much each school contributed:

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