As the NCAA men’s basketball tournament reaches the Final Four and the payouts from this year’s event have been allocated, a picture of how much each conference is set to earn is coming into focus.
The Associated Press reports that among the Power Five Conferences, the Big Ten led the way for total payout, earning a conference-record 21 “units” equating to $35.5 million. Each Division I conference is guaranteed at least one unit simply by making an appearance in the tournament, and additional units are distributed based on at-large bids and wins over the tournament’s first two weeks.
After the Big Ten, the Atlantic Coast Conference netted 20 units for $33.8 million and the Southeastern Conference set a league record of its own with 19 units for $32.1 million. The Big 12 earned 13 units for $22 million, and the Pac-12 netted seven units for $11.8 million.
The monies will be distributed to conferences over a period of six years, and could actually increase slightly as the NCAA sets a value for units each year. How each conference distributes its monies is up to them, but according to SB Nation, the NCAA urges the equal distribution of tournament money to a conference’s member schools — regardless of whether they participated in the event.
Non-Power Five leagues earning more than two units include the American Athletic Conference, which earned seven units and at least $11.8 million on the basis of having four league teams reach the tournament and the University of Houston make it to the Sweet 16. The West Coast Conference and Big East Conference each earned five units, while the Ohio Valley netted four units.
The SEC’s record high for units represents a significant jump for the league, which earned just six units for the 2016 tournament. From 2013-2016, the SEC earned just 38 units, nine fewer than its nearest Power Five competitor over that period.