You are here

Investing where it matters

There is a lot of talk about how much money college sports generates.

But did you know that more than 90 percent of the NCAA’s revenue goes to support student-athletes?

The NCAA and its member campuses are committed to providing opportunities for student-athletes to compete in college while pursuing their educations.

The value of the collegiate athletics experience is something you can’t put a price on. College sports provide opportunities for student-athletes to grow, develop leadership skills, get involved in their communities and, most important, earn a degree.

Of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities in the NCAA, only 23 schools make more money than they spend on sports each year.

For the rest, resources from the NCAA help schools fund $2.7 billion in athletic scholarships every year.

There are more than 460,000 student-athletes, and the majority of them will go pro in something other than sports. Those student-athletes will take with them not just their degrees, but the experiences of college athletics and the life lessons they learned along the way.

In short, we put our money where our mission is.


Student-Athlete Profiles

Meet some of the student-athletes who have benefited from NCAA revenue. They are succeeding on the field, in classroom and in life:

Adreian Payne

Michigan State basketball star Adreian Payne overcame the tragic death of his mother. He academically qualified for college with a learning disability and earned a basketball scholarship. He led the Spartans on and off the court, he developed a friendship with a local girl suffering from cancer and graduated this spring before being a first round draft pick by the Atlanta Hawks.

University of South Florida Student-Athletes

The University of South Florida provides its student-athletes with access to Mac laptops, allowing student-athletes to work on course assignments at any time and in any location.  This initiative was made possible by an allocation from the NCAA Academic Enhancement Fund, along with the Bulls Club annual auction and a grant from the Verizon Foundation.


Kyle Dake

Kyle Dake enjoyed the championship experience four times, making history by becoming the first DI wrestler to win four titles in four different weight classes. The Academic All-American from Cornell wrestled his way to the record books in front of a sold out crowd and an electric championship atmosphere.


Harold Legania

In October 2013, University of Minnesota linebacker Harold Legania's aunt passed away. It was important to Legania to return home to New Orleans for her funeral, but he was not sure if he could afford the last-minute airfare. Minnesota, using money from the Student Assistance Fund, covered the cost of his round trip flight home so he could be there with his family. 


Liz Phillips

Elizabeth Phillips — a three-time NCAA Elite 89 Award winner, seven-time All-American and biomedical engineering graduate of Washington University in St. Louis — was named the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year.  This event is supported through funds designated for student-athletes services. Phillips is also an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient.


Kali Lents

Kali Lents won the 3-meter dive National Championship at the 2013 Division II Championships Festival. The festival is held every year to enhance the collegiate experience and create exposure for each Division II sport, providing an unparalleled opportunity to celebrate the achievements of more than 1,100 DII student-athletes.


Karvel Anderson

Karvel Anderson had a more difficult childhood than most. After a brief but trying period of homelessness in high school, followed by fighting his way through junior college, he earned a basketball scholarship from Robert Morris University. The face of the basketball program worked hard on his academics, and will now be the first member of his family to earn a college degree.


Lauren Fleshman

Professional runner and cofounder of Picky Bars, Lauren Fleshman is a former scholarship student-athlete at Stanford where she was a 5-time NCAA Champion. She credits her “nerdy Stanford background in science and athletic performance” in helping her create the perfect gluten- and dairy-free energy bar that athletes everywhere enjoy.


James Montgomery

James Montgomery walked on to Northwestern’s basketball team instead of accepting scholarships elsewhere because he valued the education Northwestern would provide. For two years he excelled in the classroom and on the practice court, got the grades and became an integral part of the team. In 2013, James was awarded with a scholarship. This is the emotional moment he found out.


Nicole Ohlde

Kansas State basketball phenom Nicole Ohlde entered the WNBA draft in 2004. For the 6'5" student-athlete, finding affordable, elegant formal wear was no small feat. Kansas State used the Student Assistance Fund to help her purchase suitable attire for her big night.


Kelsey Ward

Drury swimmer Kelsey Ward was awarded the Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship in 2012, helping her pursue a doctorate in medicine. To be eligible for the scholarship, student-athletes must hold a grade-point average of at least 3.5, demonstrate evidence of superior character and leadership, and show that participation in athletics has been a positive influence on their personal and intellectual development.



By the Numbers

Here’s a look at how we spent NCAA revenues in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

$188.3 Million

Sports Sponsorship and Grants in Aid Funds

This fund assists Division I schools with the continuation of the sports they sponsor at the varsity level and scholarships for student-athletes. With the exception of 23 schools, most schools lose money on sports each year, and these funds enable campuses to provide athletic and academic opportunities to student-athletes. Each school’s distribution is determined based on how many sports it sponsors and how many scholarships it provides.

$188.3 Million

Basketball Fund

The basketball fund payments are made to conference offices and independent schools based upon a rolling six-year average of performance in the Division I men’s basketball tournament. One unit is awarded to each school participating in each game, except the championship game, over the same six-year period. The conferences distribute the funds among their members based on their specific revenue-sharing programs.

$97.4 Million

Division I Championships

The NCAA is committed to providing a fair, safe and exciting atmosphere for student-athletes to ensure the best possible championship experience. The resources allocated to Division I championships include support for team travel, food and lodging for the student-athletes participating, and ancillary events at championships (for example, Bracket Town and Salute at the Men’s Final Four).

$73.5 Million

Student Assistance Fund

The Student Assistance Fund combines the former Student-Athlete Opportunity and Special Assistance Funds. This money is intended to help Division I student-athletes with essential needs that arise during their time in college. These funds are available to pay for costs associated with family emergencies; clothing and other essentials; academic supplies; and medical and dental costs not covered by another insurance program. It can also be used for educational purposes, such as enrolling in summer school.

$25.1 Million

Academic Enhancement Fund

A companion to the Student Assistance Fund, the academic enhancement fund is intended to enhance academic-support programs for student-athletes at Division I schools. Among the common uses by member institutions are tutoring services, equipment (such as laptops or tablets) and supplies.

$63.2 Million

Division II and III allocations

The NCAA allocates funds to Division II and Division III to support grants, student-athlete services and programs. It also funds championships including game expenses, meal allowances and team transportation, and supports other initiatives including grants, student-athlete services, and programs.

$43.7 Million

Other Division I Distributions

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors and Executive Committee approved a supplemental $43.7 million distribution to Division I schools, which was available due to revenues exceeding expenses for the Association’s 2011-12 fiscal year. Like the basketball, sports sponsorship and scholarship funds, this distribution provides campuses with additional dollars to support student-athletes.

$8.5 Million

Conference Grants

These grants are used to implement conference-level programs in five specific categories of focus. These include officiating programs, compliance and enforcement, enhancement of opportunities for ethnic minorities, and heightening awareness of drug and gambling education programs.

$57.8 Million

Student-Athlete Services

The NCAA invests this money each year in a variety of student-athlete-focused areas. These include health and safety, catastrophic injury insurance, drug testing, and leadership development. This money also funds several NCAA scholarships, including postgraduate scholarships for former student-athletes pursuing master’s degrees, doctorates or other advanced degrees. In addition, money from this fund supports the NCAA Honors Ceremony and the Woman of the Year award.

$27.7 Million

Membership Support Services

As the governing body for collegiate athletics, the NCAA is tasked with ensuring fairness and integrity across all three divisions. While NCAA rules are proposed and approved by NCAA member schools, those same campuses often turn to the NCAA to help interpret and enforce the rules fairly across the Association. To assist with this work, the NCAA dedicates significant resources to the governance process, including committees and the NCAA Convention, in addition to training for campuses and national office support.

$4.7 Million

Educational Services

The NCAA offers training and educational services to members and student-athletes on a regular basis. These funds support various programs, including the Women’s Coaches Academy, the Pathway Program, Emerging Leaders Seminar, and the annual NCAA Convention.

$27.9 Million

Other Association-Wide Expenses

A portion of the NCAA budget is allocated to other association-wide expenses that support member institutions and the overall association, including legal services, communications and business insurance coverage.

$40.7 Million

General and Administration Expenses

To fund the day-to-day administration of the NCAA and its national office, these expenses cover the cost of central services and initiatives at the national office, including administrative and financial services, operations, information technology, facilities management and executive.


Additional Resources