About Finance

Sixty percent of NCAA revenue is distributed directly to Division I conferences, which pass most of that money along to their member institutions to support their athletics programs. Another major use of NCAA revenue is the support of 89 national championships in 23 sports, including coverage of travel expenses for all participants. Other student-athlete benefits include catastrophic-injury insurance coverage for all student-athletes; year-round and championship drug-testing programs; and various scholarship programs, among others.


For 2011-12, the most recent year for which audited numbers are available. NCAA revenue was $871.6 million, most of which came from the rights agreement with Turner/CBS Sports.

NCAA revenue supports intercollegiate athletics opportunities on national and local levels.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can the NCAA make so much money and be considered nonprofit?

The NCAA’s designation as a nonprofit association is based on how it uses money and not on how much revenue is generated. All but 4 percent of NCAA revenue is either returned directly to member conferences and institutions or used to support championships and programs that benefit student-athletes.

Where does the NCAA get its money?

Most NCAA revenue (81 percent projected for 2012-13) comes from media rights, mostly from a $10.8 billion, 14-year agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting for rights to the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. Most of the remaining revenue comes from NCAA championships, primarily ticket sales.

Is NCAA revenue different from money generated by member conferences and institutions?

Yes. The most recent estimate from the NCAA research staff is that college athletics programs annually generate about $6.1 billion from ticket sales, radio and television receipts, alumni contributions, guarantees, royalties and NCAA distributions. Another $5.3 billion is considered allocated revenue, which comes from student fees allocated to athletics, direct and indirect institutional support, and direct government support.

Revenue for the NCAA itself is projected at $797 million for 2012-13.

The NCAA media rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting is $10.8 billion. What is the duration of that contract?

That agreement is over a 14-year term. That’s an important number to remember since sports commentators often cite the overall value of the agreement while leaving the impression that it represents an annual payment. Projected income for the current of the agreement will be $797 million, with the payment escalating about 2 percent annually.

Is a history of NCAA media rights agreements available?

Yes. Here are the agreements since 1982:


  • 1982...CBS*...3...years...$49.9 million
  • 1985 CBS 3 years $94.7 million
  • 1988 CBS 3 years $166 million
  • 1991 CBS 7 years $1 billion
  • 1995 CBS Extension $1.75 billion
  • 2002 CBS 11 years $6 billion
  • 2002 ESPN 11 years $200 million
  • 2010 CBS/Turner 14 years $10.8 billion

*Football agreement also was in place.

What percentage of NCAA overall income do media rights represent?

Here are the numbers for the last five years:

Year Media % revenue Overall revenue

  • 2006-07 $509.4 million 81.9 $621.8 million
  • 2007-08 $549.5 million 86.4 $636.3 million
  • 2008-09 $594.5 million 84.7 $701.9 million
  • 2009-10 $642.7 million 85.7 $749.8 million
  • 2010-11: $687 million 81.2% $845.9 million
  • 2012-13: $705 million 81% $871.6


The total rights payment for 2011-12 was $705 million, or 81 percent of all NCAA revenue. Most of the remaining 18 percent of revenue came from championships (mostly ticket and merchandise sales).

While the amount of revenue is large, little of the money is retained by the NCAA national office. About 96 percent is distributed directly to the Division I membership or to support championships or programs that benefit student-athletes. The remaining 4 percent goes for central services, such as building operations and salaries not related to particular programs.

For 2012-13, NCAA revenue is projected at $797 million, with $702 million coming from the Association’s new rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting.

Last Updated: Feb 13, 2013