INDIANAPOLIS (MEDIA GENERAL/WTNH) – The NCAA Tournament isn’t just about who is best at the game of basketball. That’s a big part, and a very important part. But, it’s also about money. Billions of dollars are at stake. So, who is the real winner of the NCAA Tournament? Here’s a breakdown of the numbers.
“Tom Izzo’s seven Final Four appearances are incredible, and this may be his most unlikely one,” said Kels Dayton, Executive Producer of SportzEdge.com. And, Izzo like many of his counterparts is rewarded for making it into the Final Four. According to Forbes Magazine, Izzo is paid an additional $150,000 for making it into the Final Four. He’ll get another $150,000 for winning the championship. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin’s coach, is rewarded similarly.
Don’t feel bad for Kentucky’s John Calipari. He’s compensated well for his work. But, he doesn’t get anything extra for his tournament wins. As for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, we don’t know what his contract entails since Duke is a private institution. This is Coach K’s twelfth appearance in the Final Four.
The Big Ten, ACC and SEC are all represented in the Final Four this year. The Big Ten may be the big winner since they are represented twice by Michigan State and Wisconsin. Each group receives a certain amount to be distributed amongst its conference for each tournament game played. Forbes Magazine reports this year the conferences receive $260,525 for each tournament game played. So, that means the Big Ten will receive $521,050 for its Final Four appearances.
Indianapolis is spending plenty to host the Final Four. But, it expects to get much more in return. The Visit Indy tourism group is expecting the Final Four to generate more than $70 million for the local economy. Chris Gahl, Vice President of Visit Indy, tells WISH TV the event could have a long term impact. He says one goal is to persuade visitors to come back to the city. “Our message will be, if we can host the Final Four, if we can host events like the Indy 500, then we’re confident we can host your convention or event,” Gahl said.
Ratings for this year’s tournament have been good. Very good. According to Variety, Sunday’s Elite Eight doubleheader showed an increase of 10% over viewing from last year and the Saturday-Sunday average was up 23% from last year. It was the highest for the regional finals in ten years, according to Variety. TBS is carrying Saturday’s Final Four and CBS will broadcast the national championship on Monday.
Those ratings are likely to stay high this coming weekend. Number one seed Kentucky is still vying to stay unbeaten and its fans are known to be die-hards. “Throw in Duke, which always moves the needle, and Michigan State, another traditional powerhouse, and I think this is going to be a classic Final Four, ratings-wise,” said Dayton.
Those ratings translate to big advertising dollars. According to Kantar Media, spending on the men’s basketball tournament in 2014 was $1.13 billion, up 1.5 percent from 2013. And, the average price of a 30 second spot in the 2014 championship game was just under $1.5 million, a five percent increase over the year before.
Money is important. But, it’s not everything. Sometimes it’s the intangibles that matter. And, the strength of this year’s Final Four could do more for the game than any amount of money could do. “A Duke-Kentucky championship game would be a classic, and would get casual fans talking about college basketball through the summer,” said Dayton. “I think college hoops has had a great year, and it’d be nice to see it carry that momentum into next season.”