Interim NCAA President Jim Isch is expected to reveal his decisions on tournament expansion and media rights at an executive committee meeting 4/29.
Those decisions will include whether the NCAA should opt out of the last three years of its 11-year, $6 billion media contract with CBS on 4/29.
CBS could partner with Turner Sports to carry the NCAA tournament, or ESPN could acquire the rights on its own. CBS has carried the event since the early 1980s. There is a financial problem, however, with not opting out of the media deal. Because of the heavy escalators in the contract, the deal’s final three years are worth $2.13 billion, which is more than a third of the total value of the deal. Industry sources say that CBS wants relief from a $710 million average rights fee over the next three years, reports Sports Business Journal.
The tournament is critically important to the NCAA, which derives 98% of all revenue from March Madness.
The executive committee, which is chaired by Oregon State President Ed Ray, already has met twice regarding the NCAA’s media negotiations around the men’s basketball tournament.
CBS is contractually obligated to share its business results with the NCAA each year, and the network has showed that it didn’t turn a profit on the tournament this year, sources said. “It’s pretty clear that an over-the-air network can’t afford this event by itself,” one exec with knowledge of the discussions told Sports Business Journal.