Pandemic fallout: NCAA slashes distribution by $375 million

Canceling March Madness because of the coronavirus pandemic will cost the NCAA about $375 million that it would have distributed to 350 schools across the nation.

Some will be able to absorb the losses better than others.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will distribute $225 million to its Division I member schools in June, nearly two-thirds less than the $600 million scheduled to be handed out in installments from April to June.

Schools that compete in the wealthiest conferences, with billion-dollar television contracts fueled by major college football, might not notice much of a difference in the short term.

Schools competing in mid-major conferences are preparing to make sacrifices.

“This is a very teachable moment,” Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Dennis Thomas said. “That’s what athletics is about, when you’re confronted with unexpected situations and you have to overcome them.”

But that could prove challenging.

Southwestern Athletic Conference Commissioner Charles McClelland said the NCAA distribution is primarily how his member schools fund summer school and other academic support for their athletes. McClelland acknowledged that SWAC schools have dealt with APR issues in the past.

“From a conference office standpoint, we have to find innovative ways of assisting our schools in order to compensate for the lack of resources so we can continue the forward progression that we have in increasing our graduation rates and staying out of that APR threshold to where we’re not able to meet the minimum standard,” McClelland said. “We’ve made tremendous strides in the past. This is definitely a bump in the road, but we’re committed from a conference standpoint to assist schools in making sure we continue our forward progression.”