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Providence College stands to benefit financially from NCAA Tournament appearance

March 20, 2014

Providence College's Josh Fortune (right) hopes to have a big game in tonight's second-round matchup vs. North Carolina. FILE PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN

SAN ANTONIO — There’s no question that the NCAA Tournament is the equivalent of a Fortune 500 company. Between the 14-year, nearly $11 million television agreement that CBS and Turner Sports entered into back in 2010 and the presence of recognizable corporate sponsors such as AT&T and The Coca-Cola Company, it wouldn’t come as a shock to learn that they’re printing money at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis.

The question is, just how big of a slice of mince pie do NCAA participants such as Providence receive?

Based on figures compiled and published by Forbes Magazine, a tournament unit is expected to net a payday of $250,106 this year, an increase from last year’s $245,500 unit value. The Big East began the NCAA with four units, but is now down to three after Xavier lost to N.C. State in a First Four matchup earlier in the week.

“That’s ($250,106) a year for the next six years,” said PC Athletic Director Bob Driscoll. “You accumulate the units in a pot that goes to the Big East.”

According to Driscoll, 75 percent of the total pot goes to the 10 Big East members with each school receiving the same share. The remaining 25 percent goes to the bread-winning schools who are responsible in generating the units.

“It’s an incentive. The further you go, not only do you get a one-tenth portion of the 75 percent of the pot that’s created, but you also share in the 25 percent,” he noted. “It varies depending on how far you go, whether you’re a NCAA participant or not.”

While the Friars’ NCAA appearance will net the athletic department additional funds, there’s also a drawback. Under the Big East’s old arrangement, more units were available due to more teams landing invites to the Big Dance. The days of the conference sending eight or nine teams may be over, but at least in the short term, the lucrative TV deal the Big East signed with Fox Sports and CBS has helped to mitigate the amount of dollars that used to flow into the coffers.

“We’re starting up fresh. We don’t have any saved up units, but as we build the league over a period of time, they’ll be a bigger pot,” said Driscoll. “The upside is that we get more TV money from this contract than the old one. At the end of the day, it’s about a wash.”

According to Forbes, the NCAA’s basketball fund will distribute an estimated $194 million to the Division I conferences this year.

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03

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