March Madness pays the NCAA’s bills.
So when the NCAA Tournament was canceled it started a trickle-down effect that’s left the billion-dollar “non-profit” corporation reeling.
The system already reeked of hypocrisy and was flawed in various ways. But it’s not like anybody is going to fix it.
Today, the day after Championship Monday, wasn’t supposed to be like this. Usually, this is a happy Tuesday. One school is still celebrating its “One Shining Moment” while the NCAA is somewhere in the back counting its money.
But, as we all know, the coronavirus has ruined everything.
According to Yahoo Finance, in 2016-17 almost 75 percent of the record-breaking $1 billion the NCAA made that year came from the tournament. Now, it’s estimated that the tournament alone brings in $933 million.
College football may be the NCAA’s most popular sport, but basketball cuts the checks.
With the cancellation of the tournament, the NCAA is now estimated to only have about $654 million in revenue and approximately $668 million in expenses in fiscal 2020, according to USA Today. And when you realize that both of those numbers have been over $1 billion the past two years, you start to see just how much money the NCAA lost due to COVID-19.
And since the college basketball season is “officially” over after a championship game that never took place Monday night, fans’ attention will now turn to an offseason like no other. Because with the NBA on pause, it just made an already insane free-agency period in college basketball even crazier.
First off, since the NBA has no idea what it’s going to do yet, it’s hindering the decisions of a lot of college basketball players that might have already, or are still considering, declaring for the draft. And while Louisville’s Jordan Nwora and Kentucky’s backcourt of Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans have officially declared, guys like Michigan’s Isaiah Livers and N.C. State’s Josh Hall are taking advantage of a recent rule that allows them to test NBA waters without losing their eligibility.
Secondly, the transfer portal (free agency) is getting ridiculous. For instance, if you go to ESPN’s College Basketball page, four of their seven top headlines address player transfers. The other three are about draft declarations. A 2020 transfer list from early March included 620 players at that time, and that was almost four weeks ago. With the recent addition of graduate transfers having the ability to play right away, college basketball’s offseason has become an event of its own, similar to the NBA’s own free-agency period in the summer.
For example, Columbia graduate transfer Patrick Tape committed, uncommitted, and recommitted to Duke all within two weeks. All of this for a guy that didn’t even play last season, and who only averaged 11.3 points and 5.9 rebounds during the 2018-19 season.
“The decision to transfer to another school is an important and often difficult one in your college career. Before you act, do your homework. Make sure you understand how transferring will affect you, so you don’t negatively impact your education or your chances to play college sports,” reads the NCAA’s website, as it gives “student-athletes” several guides and flowcharts that detail how the whole transfer process works.
But this isn’t just about a bunch of teenagers jumping from school to school to see which one is the best fit, because coaches do it too. There have been at least 20 coaching changes this season in Division I basketball alone.
It’s always hilarious to watch high-salaried grown men tell unpaid teenagers to be loyal to their teammates and program when coaches will jump at the first opportunity for more money.
HBO recently released “The Scheme,” which is a documentary that examined the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. In it, audio from wiretaps featuring Arizona coach Sean Miller and LSU coach Will Wade is played, discussing how players are paid.
It’s been a week since it aired and both men still have their jobs.
But what can you expect when the men that run these high-profile programs coach in a sport that basically finances the NCAA’s entire operation?