The NCAA made more than $1 billion last year, almost $867 million from the men's Division I basketball tournament, and most of that from a massive television rights deal with CBS and Turner that runs through the 2032 tournament.
The cornonavirus not only wiped out the games, but it will create some unexpected red ink on the NCAA's balance sheet this year. Exactly how much is to be determined.
“Well, I can't give you any specific numbers because we don't know yet,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “We know that the financial implications are all negative and we're going to have to deal with those.”
The NCAA canceled the tournament last Thursday because of concerns over spreading the virus. At first, the NCAA announced the games would go on, but the general public would be kept out of the buildings. A day later, the whole thing was scrapped.
The NCAA's contract with CBS and Turner pays about $800 million per year.
It is standard for media rights contracts to have language that relieves rights holders from financial obligations if games are canceled due to events outside the control of the property, said Chris Bevilacqua, co-founder of Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures.
“Typically, those right fees are paid in installments. Let's presume a couple of those installments were probably already paid and the bigger installments haven't been paid because the tournament hasn't happened,” said Bevilacqua, who has advised leagues and college conferences in TV contract negotiations but was not involved in the NCAA's deals.
“I'm sure they have a way to deal with a total and complete cancellation," he said.