It’s good that media outlets report on the finances of college sports; it’s bad that they occasionally mislead or misinform readers in the process.
A recent example occurred in the Reno Gazette-Journal as part of a story about the Utah attorney general’s antitrust lawsuit against the Bowl Championship Series.
Actually, the story from writer Chris Murray (which acknowledged drawing some content from an Associated Press article) was fine.
The problem came with some accompanying content in the printed version of the paper.
There, someone had inserted list of high points, including the following:
“The NCAA makes $125 annually on its TV deal for the BCS football games.”
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Media founder more on the subject of finances than in any other area of college sports coverage. Usually, the problem involves the failure to distinguish the NCAA from the individual schools or from other related organizations.
In this case, it’s the latter. Although the Bowl Championship Series is made up of NCAA member conferences, the finances are administered outside the NCAA itself. So, it’s the BCS that’s making $125 million off postseason football, not the NCAA.
Another highlight for the same story said: the “NCAA makes $771 million annually on its TV deal for the NCAA (basketball) tournament.”
That part is true, but it begs for amplification. About 60 percent of that money (roughly $462 million) will be distributed directly to Division I conferences and institutions. Much of the rest of it will go to administer 88 championships in 23 sports in all three membership divisions. The money also supports various other important programs, like catastrophic-injury insurance (and other insurance); championship and year-round drug testing; and postgraduate scholarships, degree-completion grants and internships.
In other words, there’s not a safe in the basement packed with $771 million.