As the pandemic hit in March, the Big East Conference was in the midst of its men’s basketball tournament, held in Madison Square Garden. Ensuing shut downs caused the Big East tournament to be canceled — which was cause for some degree of financial alarm because according to Sportico, the tournament accounts for nearly 20 percent of the league’s annual revenue.
Sportico reports that despite the sudden cancellation, the league was able to recoup most of its lost revenue for the 2020 tournament through a $10.5 million insurance payout.
The event-cancellation policy the conference collected on included language that covered losses in the event of a cancellation caused by a communicable disease. Conference sources told Sportico that the policy was paid out, and confirmed the final figure.
Recouping those lost revenues helped the conference absorb the blow of the pandemic, supplementing its internal distributions.
Sportico reports that the NCAA was similarly able to recoup losses caused by the pandemic — but the $270 million it recovered via insurance payouts was much less than the estimated $1 billion the NCAA men’s basketball tournament generates annually. While conferences collected some portion of that payout, it left them far short of expected targets. The Big East policy mostly covered for its own tournament losses, however.
As college basketball season tips off, there have already been some COVID-19 related cancellations. The Big East itself has had programs such as Creighton, DePaul and Seton Hall cancel games already. If, however, the pandemic continues into tournament time, the conference’s policy will cover this year’s men’s basketball tournament, as well as the 2022 event.