Pac-12 should support making Women’s NCAA Tournament a standalone event
The economics of the Pac-12 Conference aren’t very good. They can use a boost. The conference should be pushing for ways to make significantly more money. One way is to change the arrangements connected to the presentation and ownership of the Women’s NCAA Tournament.
Two years ago, in a story we picked up on at Trojans Wire, Jon Wilner of the Wilner Hotline explained one very important detail about the Women’s NCAA Tournament:
“The women’s event, which is televised by ESPN, doesn’t produce a profit that can be spun off to the campuses. It’s not a money-maker in any form,” Wilner wrote. “However, that doesn’t necessarily reflect its value. The TV rights to the women’s tournament are packaged with the rights to 20-something other NCAA championships in a $35 million annual deal with the NCAA.
“We’re not exactly experts in TV rights, but that feels low. It might not have been low when the deal was signed a decade ago, but the sport has grown in popularity since then. Has the NCAA gone to ESPN and requested a new deal? If not, this is the time.”
The departures of USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 make it more important for the conference to find new revenue streams. Creating political pressure to get the NCAA to disconnect Women’s March Madness from other NCAA sports championships would seem to offer an immediate infusion of revenue opportunities for the conference.
Analyst Alex Simon, at the San Jose Mercury News, wrote this a few days ago:
“A men’s unit in 2022 was $338,211 – around 0.2% of the BPF. If we use the same scale, a women’s basketball unit for 2022 would be worth $43,655.
“For the sake of simplicity, we will not add the 3 percent increase to each season. But even taking that one unit and multiplying it by six seasons, a unit’s full worth is $261,930.
“Remember the numbers up top, about how well the Pac-12 did in the 2021 women’s tournament? That performance would have been good for 18 units.
“So the hypothetical total for the Pac-12 in 2021 would be $4,714,740. Divide that up among the schools evenly and each athletic department would get $392,895. It’s not in the millions. But it’s a whole lot more than zero.”
The Pac-12 didn’t have a great 2023 Women’s NCAA Tournament, but it did still put three teams in the Sweet 16. That’s a good batch of NCAA win units. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the conference otherwise would have had … if the Women’s NCAA Tournament can be untethered from the other NCAA championships. It’s long past time for a deal to get done, for the Pac-12’s sake.
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