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NCAA hoops: Florida, FSU among the elite in March Madness earnings

Report breaks down how much teams, leagues earned from NCAA tourney

Florida State's Trent Forrest works against the defense of North Carolina's Joel Berry in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
Florida State's Trent Forrest works against the defense of North Carolina's Joel Berry in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) (Associated Press)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Associated Press took a deep dive through years and years of financial data from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and broke down just how much money that March Madness generates for colleges across the country. 

News4Jax’s Eric Wallace looked at that data and honed in on the First Coast’s colleges of local rooting interest, Florida, Florida State, Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida. 

It’s good to play in a tradition-rich basketball conference like Florida State in the ACC and Florida in the SEC, and not nearly as beneficial for conferences who don’t regularly win a game or two in March Madness. 

For a rundown of the AP report, look here. For a breakdown on how teams have been compensated, or some underdogs who struck it rich, here's a good read on it

For brevity, here’s a quick glance. 

Teams who reach the basketball tournament earn measures called units. Just reaching the tournament qualifies teams for one unit. A victory in each round, with the exception of the Final Four and championship, earns a unit. Wins in those rounds do not earn units. 

According to the AP, “each distribution year is assigned a value for a single unit, which is then applied to units earned by conferences over the previous six tournaments. The NCAA paid conferences $216 million in 2018, amounting to $273,500 per unit for tournament results from 2012-17.”

The money that those conferences earn are then often split amongst the members equally. 
That’s why Florida State couldn’t be sitting much better than it is in the ACC.

Since 1997, the Seminoles have earned units totaling $14,110,000, an impressive amount of basketball earnings. But since Florida State plays in the ACC with the likes of Duke and North Carolina, the Seminoles were paid $27.6 million.

Duke has amassed 70 units in that span, second in the country to Kansas, which works out to $72.7 million. Thanks to the split among conference members, Duke pocketed the same $27.6 million that Florida State did. The latest annual payout to most ACC teams was $2,046,000.

Florida ranks eighth in the country with 50 units earned ($57,010,000). The Gators’ take after the SEC split was $21,487,000 since 1997. The latest payout to each SEC team was $1,402,000 — less than what the ACC teams are getting.

For schools like Jacksonville University and the University of North Florida, both of whom play in the Atlantic Sun Conference, their financial success in March Madness has been limited to what other ASun teams do in the tournament. 

The ASun has six victories in the AP’s 22 years of data, from Florida Gulf Coast (two in 2013, one in 2016), Mercer (one in 2014), Georgia State (one in 2001) and College of Charleston (1997). The conference’s earnings have been limited to just one unit in other years, when the conference’s representative to the tournament lost its first game.

JU has earned $2,816,000, second in the ASun to Stetston ($2,962,000), despite not reaching the NCAA tournament since 1986. UNF, which reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 2015, has earned $1,618,000.


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