The NCAA posted record revenue in fiscal 2021, as college sports’ governing body bounced back from a year gutted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NCAA reported $1.16 billion in revenue for the year ended Aug. 31, 2021, according to audited financial statements, up from $519 million in the previous year. The latter figure was largely depressed because the men’s basketball tournament, which accounts for the vast majority of NCAA revenue in a normal year, was canceled in 2020. March Madness returned with an all-Indiana model in 2021.
Insurance was once again a big part of the NCAA’s financial performance. The governing body reported receiving $81 million in loss of revenue insurance in 2021, largely tied to lost ticket sales. That follows the $270 million it collected in similar insurance from the previous year.
That particular type of insurance, however, expired last year and will no longer be available going forward, the document says, “given the changes to the marketplace due to COVID-19. Management is exploring alternative solutions to pandemic risk management and will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 during fiscal-year 2021-22.”
The NCAA’s financial disclosures are an annual reminder of just how much of the governing body’s business hinges on the men’s basketball tournament, and more specifically, its long-term TV deals with CBS and Turner. In 2020, when the event was canceled, the NCAA received about $113 million as part of the deals, which are guaranteed by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Turner’s parent. In 2021, those payments jumped to $850 million. They’ll rise above $900 million starting in 2025.
For the second-straight year, the strength of the markets helped bolster the NCAA. Investment income, which was $14.6 million in 2019, increased to $40.5 million in 2020 and $60.9 million in 2021.