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Knight Study shows NCAA revenue sharing favors Power-Five Football Schools

How do colleges and universities share revenues from the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) football and basketball tournaments?  The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a good governance organization that promotes transformational change that prioritizes the education, health, safety, and success of college athletes, commissioned a study to find out. 

The Knight Commission was formed by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in October 1989, in the wake of a number of high profile scandals involving college athletes.  The Knight Commission receives all of its funding through the Knight Foundation to preserve its independence.  Their groundbreaking work has helped restructure intercollegiate athletics, emphasizing the importance of education and scholarship, improving conditions and graduation rates for college athletes, and strengthening the reputation of colleges and universities and their athletic programs.

According to the Knight Report, every year, the NCAA distributes some of its revenue “based on a number of measures and incentives, including March Madness tournament success, the number of NCAA sports an institution offers, and the number of athletics scholarships provided in those sports.” Currently, the NCAA does not receive any revenue from the Football Bowl Subdivision(FBS) but still includes the sport in its yearly distribution of money. The current NCAA revenue-sharing agreement was created prior to FBS football becoming the money-making machine it is today, which allows for major football universities, such as Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State to collect money from both their football success as well as receiving money from the NCAA. This puts many college programs that are outside of the major conferences (SEC, ACC, BIG-10, BIG-12, and PAC -12), which are referred to as mid-major colleges, at a clear disadvantage.  Thus, their share of tournament revenue is much less.

Upon conducting their study, the Knight Commission proposed a refined distribution formula that allows for mid-major universities to receive more money. This can be especially important today since the COVID-19 pandemic has put these mid-major colleges in a financially problematic spot.

Read more about the NCAA revenue study conducted by the Knight Commission at

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