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 members 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 importantly, earn a degree.

Of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities in the NCAA, only 20 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, second only to the federal government.

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

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.

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:

Kaniesha Atwater

Florida Gulf Coast University basketball athlete Kaneisha Atwater was pregnant at 18, but instead of giving up her dreams to play college basketball and graduate, she pursued them further with additional motivation – so she can give her son the childhood she never had.


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.


Gabe Olaseni

In November 2014, University of Iowa men’s basketball player Gabe Olaseni tragically lost his father to a brief illness. Through the Student Assistance Fund, Iowa was able to pay for Olaseni to fly home to London, England, to attend his father’s funeral service and spend time with his family. Olaseni went on to have a successful year and was named Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year.


Elizabeth Tucker

Elizabeth Tucker graduated from Notre Dame with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a national championship with Notre Dame’s women’s soccer team. In honor of her leadership, community service, strong academics and athletics success, she was named the NCAA Woman of the Year in October 2014. The event is supported through funds designed for student-athlete services.


Kendall Spencer

Kendall Spencer – a former New Mexico track and field athlete and current chair of the national Student-Athlete Advisory Committee – credits college sports with creating opportunities for him that might never have had otherwise. Based on his experiences, he advocates to protect all college sports and opportunities for all college athletes.


Nicole Michmerhuizen

Nicole Michmerhuizen is a five-time All-American in track and field and the Division III national champion in the 10,000 meter – and all while managing diabetes. During her time at Calvin College, she conducted extensive research on the human genome and how regions of the DNA are tied with diabetes susceptibility. Michmerhuizen received an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and is now working on her Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of Michigan.


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.


Arizona State football players

The summer before the 2014 college football season, the Arizona State University Sun Devils offered five walk-on athletes full scholarships. Chip Sarafin, Fred Gammage, Jordan Simone, Jason Franklin and Brandon Mathews were informed at a team meeting, after putting in hard work on the gridiron and in the classroom. Here’s the emotional moment they learned about their scholarships.


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.


Karenee Demery

Cal State Stanislaus soccer athlete Karenee Demery was awarded the Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship in 2014. 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.


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.

So where does the money go?

$193.6 Million

Sports Sponsorship and Scholarship 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 20 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.

$193.6 Million

Basketball Fund

The basketball fund payments are made to conference offices and independent schools based upon a rolling six-year period 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.

$98.1 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).

$75.6 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.

$26.1 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.

$63.5 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, supports other initiatives including grants, student-athlete services, and programs.

$48 Million

Other Division I Distributions

The NCAA Division I Board of Directors and Executive Committee approved a supplemental $48 million distribution to Division I schools, which was available due to revenues exceeding expenses for the Association’s 2012-13 fiscal year. Like the basketball, sports sponsorship and scholarship funds, this distribution provides campuses with additional dollars to support student-athletes.

$8.7 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.

$69.5 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 also funds several NCAA scholarships, including postgraduate scholarships for former student-athletes pursuing master’s degrees, Ph.Ds. or other advanced degrees. In addition, money from this fund supports the NCAA Honors Ceremony and the Woman of the Year award.

$31.2 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.

$4.4 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.

$54.6 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.

$41.7 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.

[Actual numbers from the 2013-14 fiscal year]