Report: Wichita State lost money during its Final Four run last spring

1 Comment

The prospect of an athletic department losing money during postseason play isn’t all that shocking, as it’s something we’ve become used to seeing in major college football. But this isn’t seen to be the case in college basketball, with their being four postseason events (as opposed to 35 bowl games) and the NCAA tournament raking in all kinds of revenue dollars for the NCAA and its participating conferences and schools.

And when a team that hasn’t seen as much of the national spotlight as the “usual suspects” makes a deep run, the benefits of increased national exposure include an increase in apparel money and more often than not an increase in applicants as well. Those are rewards that Wichita State will likely reap due to their run to last season’s Final Four (and their hot start to the current season) in the years to come.

However according to a report from Forbes Magazine, the Shockers actually lost money in the short-term. The program saw its expenses, in which Forbes included coaching bonuses, rise to $5.4 million last season with extra travel being one area of impact. While that isn’t a large sum for say, a Kentucky or Kansas, that isn’t exactly a small amount for a program that doesn’t receive as much national attention.

But while direct spending skyrocketed, the prize money payouts were minimal. The NCAA’s tournament distributions are spread out over six-year rolling periods, with conferences receiving around $1.5 million for every tournament game played by member schools. Put another way, that means Wichita State’s performance last year will net the Missouri Valley Conference more than $7.5 million over the next six years.

That number shrinks quite a bit, however, when broken down to the per-school level. Rege Klitzke, the head of the Wichita State Athletic Department’s business office, says that, after the conference gets a share, the NCAA distribution amounts to an extra $70,000 to $80,000 for the school each year. According to Klitzke, “From a strictly numbers standpoint, [the financial gains] are not as substantial as some people tend to think.”

Once again, this is merely a short-term “loss” that more than a few athletic departments experience during the month of March. But given the long-term benefits and the essentially “free” advertising that can come as a result of a deep tournament run, it’s a trade-off any school would be willing to make.

h/t Matt Norlander

Assigned Reading: What’s going on at Grambling?


One aspect of college basketball that has drawn the ire of some fans over the years is the presence of “guarantee games,” contests in which a school pays the visiting school to play a contest that in most cases is little more than a glorified exhibition. Programs struggling to balance their accounts send teams on the road for multiple guarantee games, resulting in many days on the road and few (if any) home dates before conference play begins in January.

One school in such a predicament is Grambling, which finished last season with an 0-28 record. With donations dwindling and the same being the case for state funding, the entire athletic department has fallen on hard times. Things have come to a head with the football team refusing to make the trip to play at Jackson State this weekend, which leads to our assigned reading for the day.

George Dohrmann of Sports Illustrated took a look at the many issues plaguing Grambling’s football program and the school as a whole, with the lack of money resulting in professors going on furlough and even in some cases being asked to teach courses for free. Will a few guarantee games cure this issue (Grambling’s lone non-conference home game this season is against Lyon College on December 21)? No, but it does help illustrate why some schools put together such schedules.

Story Link