Financial Jackpot Unlikely for Cash-Strapped St. Peter's

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Saint Peters

It's estimated that Saint Peter's University's three NCAA tournament wins will mean a windfall of at least $6 million in additional money distributed to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference  over the next six years.

As reported by ESPN, the league has autonomy as to how to distribute the money.

"I would like to see however it's distributed among the members of the MAAC, I'd like to see Saint Peter's get a little bit more," Saint Peter's athletic director Rachelle Paul said. "We're the ones doing this, quite frankly."

As a 15 seed, Saint Peter's defeated second-seeded Kentucky, seventh-seeded Murray State and third-seeded Purdue to reach the Elite Eight. Saint Peter's spent $130 million less on athletics last year than did Kentucky. The university has an endowment ($37 million) that's less than half the size of Kentucky coach John Calipari's current contract ($86 million).

Paul said the school's basketball operating budget, which does not include coaching salaries, is less than $250,000 and the lowest number, by far, in the MAAC. Four members of the basketball coaching staff are completely unpaid. 

Saint Peter's coach Shaheen Holloway makes nearly $266,000 per year, according to the latest available tax documents. The possibility of him leaving for Seton Hall, his alma mater, looms in part because they can pay him nearly ten times more than Saint Peter's.

Paul added that Saint Peter's accomplishment and accompanying financial uptick are "unprecedented." MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor, who is a Saint Peter's graduate, acknowledges this but said there's unlikely to be a windfall headed Saint Peter's way, ESPN reported.

Ensor said the ultimate decision on how to fairly compensate Saint Peter's is something that he'd have to "take up with my board," which is made up of MAAC presidents. Ensor said there's already a distribution system in place that allows for a "modest" slice of money for teams that have won in the tournament. The rest of the excess money is expected to be dedicated toward improving basketball in the league.

"I don't anticipate there's going to be a jackpot," he said of Saint Peter's. "[The presidents] could go in a different direction. It's really not my call. They tend to want to reinvest."

As reported by ESPN's Pete Thamel, for a league like the MAAC, which lacks the revenue of major football conferences, a run like this is transformative. The MAAC hasn't received more than one unit in the NCAA tournament since 2009.

The MAAC, like all conferences with an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament, is guaranteed one unit every year. This year, those units are worth $338,210.96. According to the NCAA, those units are paid out over six years and fluctuate with broadcast rights. So that means each unit is worth at least $338,210.96 over six years, for a total of $2,029,265. How could a bigger slice of that money dedicated to Saint Peter's help the infamously cash-strapped program?

"Oh, my gosh," Paul said. "It could change our whole program. It could help with recruiting, it could help with scholarships, it could help with facility upgrades. There's a million things that we could use that money for."

Paul said the modest basketball operating budget doesn't even include things like paying officials, as fundraising is required for things that many have money allocated for.

"I would say we've got a ways to go to just get to a point where we're comfortable not crunching numbers for every road trip and every hotel," she said, according to ESPN. "I'm probably making it sound more dire than it is. But we're very conscientious about what we spend the money on. It only goes so far."

As reported by and other media outlets, following the Peacocks' advancement to the Sweet 16, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said on his SiriusXM radio show, “I just wanna mention about St. Peter’s, what Shaheen Holloway has done, and his team, is worth tens of millions, maybe a hundred million dollars over the course of time for St. Peter’s. It will transform an already outstanding university. It will give it more resources, more attention, more visibility. People do not understand completely what sport does for a school. It not only provides the spirit within the school, togetherness, but if you do really well it translates into visibility for everything in that university, and money. I remember when we played Butler in 2010, Brad Stevens is a good friend, I said, ‘Your life has changed, but your university’s life has changed also with what you’ve done.’ The power, the influence that that has. So congratulations to St. Peter’s.”

Since then, St. Peter's lost to North Carolina in the Elite Eight, and Krzyzewski led his Blue Devils to a record 13th Final Four with a win over Arkansas.

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