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Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)


Clemson is back in the black.

At least as far as the Atlantic Coast Conference coffers are concerned.

Basketball teams that play in the NCAA Tournament earn a single "unit", or "share," for each game they play, so the Tigers are emerging as a key financial contributor thanks to their performance through the first two rounds of the tournaments.

Each unit this year is worth $273,000, which means Clemson already has earned $546,000 based on its performance in this year's March Madness.

Once it plays Kansas Friday night in the Sweet 16, the Tigers will have earned $819,000 - well, sort of.

That money doesn't go directly to Clemson, but rather to the NCAA's Division I Basketball Performance Fund, where it is combined with units earned by all other ACC teams in the tournament. Then, in mid-April, that money is dispersed to the league, which in turn distributes an equal amount to each of the ACC's 15 basketball teams.

In other words, Pittsburgh, which went winless in the ACC, will receive just as much of a financial windfall from the Basketball Performance Fund as NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 teams Clemson, Duke, Florida State and Syracuse.

"As successful as the ACC has been, that revenue stream has always been strong for the league," said Graham Neff, Clemson's Deputy Director of Athletics.

After a six-year absence from the NCAA Tournament, coach Brad Brownell's team is back among the ACC's money earners.

"It's good for Clemson to be able to contribute to that," Neff said. "We want all the ACC teams to win, because the money does have a roundabout way of coming back to Clemson."

Stacey Osburn, director of public and media relations for the NCAA, said the distribution is based on conference and independent schools' performance in the tournament over a rolling, six-year period.

"In 2018, each basketball unit will be approximately $273,000 for a total distribution of $164.6 million and will be based on units earned from 2012 to 2017," Osburn said.

Unit values have continued to rise gradually each year under the current 14-year, $10.8 billion tournament contract with CBS and TBS.

"Future projected distributions will be $280,300 per unit in 2019 and $282,100 per unit in 2020," Osburn said.

The ACC's earned its most units in 2016, when seven league teams made the NCAA Tournament, six made the Sweet 16 and four advanced to the Elite Eight and two to the Final Four. The ACC's revenue that year was $20.6 million.

Despite not making the NCAA Tournament each of the previous six years, Clemson's NCAA Tournament share from the ACC has averaged $1.47 million over the last six years.

To help schools curb NCAA Tournament expenses, the NCAA pays for travel as well as providing a per diem, which is paid to the school, not to individuals.

Though Clemson has earned $273,000 for each game in this tournament, the school will eventually receive only $18,200 because it will be split 15 ways.

"It's approximately $30,000 for us to travel, so it's a net loss, but playing in the NCAATournament is something every school wants to do," Neff said. "And for the most part, we recoup most of our expenses from the ACC's distribution."

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March 23, 2018


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