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NCAA distribution shortfall likely won’t affect Whitworth outside of national championship tournaments

UPDATED: Fri., March 27, 2020

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

The NCAA announced significant cuts in its revenue distribution on Thursday that reflect the money it lost when it canceled the Division I men’s basketball championships, a highly lucrative television spectacle.

While the cuts to the distributions to Division I members include bigger numbers – a distribution of $225 million compared to an originally budgeted $600 million before the COVID-19 outbreak – those to Division III’s national budget are significant, too.

Division III will receive 3.18% of actual NCAA revenues, which are projected to be $10.7 million for the division. That is $22 million less than it received a year ago, according to the NCAA’s release.

About 75% of that money goes toward D-III national championships. The other 25% supports grants and programming, such as leadership and professional development events, Whitworth athletics director Tim Demant said.

Those cuts would be entirely absorbed at the national level, meaning Whitworth’s athletics budget would not be directly impacted.

But if Whitworth teams advance to national championships, or if they want to send representatives to those national training programs, then it potentially would, Demant said.

“If our teams don’t make national championships, then (the impact is) very little,” Demant said. “But if our teams are in the hunt for at-larges and even automatics, it might focus the NCAA much more on a regional championship model.”

This winter, for example, the Whitworth and Whitman men’s basketball teams – as well as the Whitman and George Fox women’s teams – all reached the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike previous years, all were sent to different first- and second-round pods, a more expensive proposition because the NCAA has to pay for more flights than if those teams played in the same four-team group.

Demant said he has advocated that the NCAA should spend more on national events so that decisions about seeding and placement are less about the finances.

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