About Finance

Sixty percent of NCAA revenue is distributed directly to Division I conferences, which pass most of that money along to their member institutions to support their athletics programs. Another major use of NCAA revenue is the support of 89 national championships in 23 sports, including coverage of travel expenses for all participants. Other student-athlete benefits include catastrophic-injury insurance coverage for all student-athletes; year-round and championship drug-testing programs; and various scholarship programs, among others.


The NCAA annually spends more than $90 million on 89 national championships in three membership divisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the NCAA cover travel expenses for championships?

NCAA championships are regarded as the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics competition. Travel costs could discourage deserving teams from competing if expenses were not covered, thus devaluing the championship. Further, requiring teams to pay for championships travel would penalize teams that succeed in a range of sports.

Are there guidelines for NCAA championships travel?

Yes. Committees seek to limit travel as much as possible when they bracket tournament fields. Bus travel is required within certain distances. Where air travel is required, a travel provider is charged with finding the most competitive rates.

Air travel expenses are so volatile. How does the NCAA budget for the spikes?

Sports committees, aware that travel expenses can suddenly spike, budget conservatively for championships expenses. If the money is not used for travel in a particular year, it can always be applied for other purposes, such as supplemental distributions to the membership or to build reserves.

Does the NCAA cover travel expenses for postseason football?

The NCAA covers expenses for the Division I Football Championship (that is, the championship for the Football Championship Subdivision) and for the Divisions II and III Football Championships.

Travel trends (in millions)

  2001-12 2010-11 2009-10
Per Diem $30.5 $30 $28.4
Travel $48.6 $44 $41.2
Total $79.1 $74 $69.6

For 2011-12, the most recent year for which final numbers are available, the NCAA spent a total of $105.3 million on championships. Of that, $68.8 million (65 percent) was spent on Division I and National Collegiate championships, $17.8 million on Division II championships (17 percent) and $18.7 million on Division III championships (18 percent).

The NCAA covers travel expenses for the official travel party (mostly student-athletes and coaches) at virtually every round of  every NCAA championship. For 2010-11, the total was $74 million − $30.4 million for per diem and $44 million for travel. Per diem allowances vary from division to division; they are paid directly to the competing institutions and not to the individuals.

Non-rights revenue from NCAA championships for 2010-11, the most recent year for which complete numbers are available, was $85.9 million. That figure includes ticket sales, apparel sales and concessions, among other things.

Last Updated: Dec 26, 2013