As the winningest coach in NCAA men's basketball history, Mike Krzyzewski has avoided losing streaks as well as anyone. But the Duke University legend sees the prospect of the NCAA losing back-to-back tournaments to the coronavirus pandemic as nothing short of catastrophic.
Speaking on Tuesday's edition of Keyshawn, JWIll & Zubin on ESPN Radio, Krzyzewski said, "We're the thing that the NCAA is most concerned about because men's college basketball and the tournament pays for something like ... it produces 98 percent or more of the money for the NCAA. We need to have the tournament. We can't have it where two years in a row you don't have the NCAA tournament."
Krzyzewski's comments follow reports that the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA tournament cost the organization more than $375 million.
Per the NCAA's public audit, the group generated more than $867 million off the 2019 NCAA tournament, according to ESPN. While Power 5 programs generate most of their revenue from football, the bulk of college basketball's 353 programs are in leagues that don't have access to that financial pipeline, which increases the value of the NCAA tournament. A strong tournament run can result in millions of dollars for a conference.
When Loyola Chicago dazzled the nation with its 2018 Final Four run, it made $8.5 million for the Missouri Valley Conference. The financial stakes for those leagues during an economic downturn could have significant consequences across the country.
Krzyzewski believes the NCAA must host a tournament in 2021, even if it doesn't start in March. May Madness, anyone?
"I think that's where you should start," Krzyzewski said on ESPN Radio. "Make sure you have the tournament. It doesn't make any difference when it is. Because we don't even know when the NBA season is going to be next year. And we should look at them to see how they navigate the waters going forward. They've navigated them really well with the bubble."