SIU may reap benefits of MVC’s March Madness success


By Sean Carley, @SCarleyDE

SIU can soon write a thank-you note to former conference rivals Ali Farokhmanesh, Doug McDermott, Ron Baker, Fred VanVleet and Seth Tuttle; but it is unsure how big of a note is necessary.

Even though the Dawgs haven’t made the NCAA tournament since 2007, Saluki Athletics will receive monetary benefits because of the Missouri Valley Conference’s recent success in the 66-team tournament.

The revenue comes as part of the NCAA basketball fund, established in 1990 as a result of the association’s efforts to more fairly divide the profits brought in by the yearly championship tournament, according to the NCAA website.


March Madness is one of the NCAA’s biggest money makers, as its new TV contract with CBS/Turner Sports will bring in $10.8 billion over 14 years — almost $771 million a year, according to a release from the association.

Funds are distributed based upon a conference’s success over the previous six tournaments, according to the NCAA’s website. The latest payments will come to the MVC April 13 for the tournaments from 2010 to 2015.

For each game played in the tournament, the team’s respective conference is given one “unit” holding a value assigned by the NCAA. This year, each unit is valued at approximately $260,800.

During the previous six years, Valley teams have played in 21 March Madness games, led by Wichita State’s 11 appearances, meaning $5,476,800 will be awarded to the conference on the distribution date.

Wichita State’s run to the round of 32 from the First Four, and UNI’s roller-coaster run in its two games gives the MVC five units this season, which the conference projects to be worth $8,100,000 during the next six years.

Last year, the MVC received the ninth-largest distribution out of the fund, tied for fourth out of mid-majors behind the Atlantic 10, Mountain West and West Coast conferences.

Divide the $5,476,800 among the 10 MVC teams and each team would receive $537,680, a rather hefty payday for a program that hasn’t played in the tournament since before President Barack Obama took office.


Unfortunately, the world is not that perfect.

To properly reimburse the teams that do participate in the tournament, the MVC awards each team that receives a March Madness bid that year a “participation stipend” equal to one-half unit, said conference commissioner Doug Elgin.

This year, with Wichita State and UNI making a run, one unit overall is taken off lowering the pool’s total to $5,216,000.

Since the basketball fund accounts for more than 70 percent of the league’s annual revenue, the conference uses the fund to cover its operational expenses throughout the year such as conference championships, TV productions and officials.

Once the conference’s expenses are covered, the remaining amounts are distributed equally to each member university.

It is still to be determined how much in expenses the conference has to cover, Elgin said.

The MVC’s overall books will not be determined until an auditor comes in later this year, and the process takes months. Elgin said it is difficult to ballpark a figure that the conference needs to cover because of all the revenue and expense variables involved.

To add another variable, there is an additional “supplemental distributions” fund the NCAA puts out, according to a document from Elgin. This money comes from a surplus in the NCAA’s budget and is also based on units earned in the six-year period; but the NCAA is in the same spot as the MVC, not knowing exactly where its finances lie.

The MVC projected this season’s supplemental total to be $480,000 last year.

All of this muddies the water for SIU, in dire need of financial assistance amid the state’s budget impasse.

On March 9, SIU President Randy Dunn listed the men’s and women’s tennis team among the cuts in a proposal responding to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed 2017 budget, saving the school $688,000.

If this proposal ends up coming to fruition, and expenses are low for the MVC, the money gained from the conference’s success could help fund those teams.

Sean Carley can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3307.