For the Maryland Terrapins, advancing in the NCAA tournament won't earn them any additional money, but will represent a payback of sorts.
Under the terms of a financial reform that went into effect in 1991, the distribution of the millions of dollars generated by the tournament has less to do with the performance of any individual team. But conference success does play a role, meaning the winners share the proceeds with losers.
"For a period of time, Maryland has benefited from the success of others, and now we are contributing," said Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger. The school, which hadn't played in the tournament since 1988, will play tomorrow in the Midwest Regional semifinals.
The men's basketball tournament is a financial mother lode for the NCAA. Last year, it took in $129 million in broadcast rights from CBS and $4.7 million in tickets and other revenue.
This year, ticket sales are expected to decline slightly because of a smaller Final Four arena, but the TV money will be $137 million.
The bulk of the tournament money finds its way back to the 301 Division I schools as scholarships, grants and expense payments.
This year, Maryland will receive about $750,000 in grants and scholarships from last year's tournament.
Though the Terps didn't make the tournament, the nine-team Atlantic Coast Conference as a whole did well, playing in 18 games. Over time, this can be lucrative, but the payout is based on a six-year sliding scale to smooth out budgets. The ACC got $4.1 million from the basketball fund -- the chief performance-based fund -- last year.
Because it had the greatest participation in the tournament over the past six years, the ACC received more money than any other conference. The ACC divides the money evenly among its member schools.
The NCAA allocated $31.5 million to the basketball fund last year, and the same amount this year. Another $31.5 million goes to separate funds for athletic scholarships and schools that sponsor more than the minimum number of sports.
Maryland will receive another $25,000 in expense money for advancing to the Sweet 16. Final Four teams get another $50,000 for that game, which requires moving more people to the event.
Geiger said having a winning season earns Maryland more respect in conference dealings on other issues.
"We are pulling our weight now. I believe in the system, and I believe that is what the conference is all about," Geiger said.
The categories and percentages for distribution of NCAA tournament funds:
Item .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Pct.
Basketball fund .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 27.5
Tourn. teams' expenses.. .. .. .. .. 24.0
Grants-in-aid fund .. .. .. .. .. .. 18.3
Sports sponsorship fund .. .. .. .. .. 9.2
Academic enhancement fund.. .. .. .. 7.8
Conference grants, royalties .. .. .. 4.6
Division II enhancement .. .. .. .. .. 2.6
Student assistance fund .. .. .. .. .. 2.6
Catastrophic injury insurance .. .. .. 2.4
Scholarships .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..1.6