Men's Basketball Sports

Explainer: March Madness success means more than publicity

Chairman of the Board of Regents Tilman Fertitta has helped raise the profile of the basketball team by bankrolling a large part of the Fertitta Center. | Ahmed Gul/The Cougar

Houston made it to the Sweet Sixteen and provided the University a stage it has not had in basketball since 1984.

But the wins were more than just publicity and exposure. The school and the American Athletic Conference will reap the financial benefits of the journey for at least the next six years.

The NCAA has a basketball performance fund that is distributed to teams based on their NCAA Tournament performance.

The fund of more than $168 million is split up and given to teams and conferences based on how many games they play and how many wins they have. The only exceptions are that teams that automatically qualify to the tournament via winning a conference tournament do not earn a unit for playing their first game and teams will not earn any money for the championship game.

Houston played in three games and won two, meaning it earned five units, but that money will not go directly to the school. It will be sent to the AAC, and the conference will split it up to each of the members.

In 2018, the amount of money per unit was about $273,500, and it should stay at that level for the foreseeable future, so UH has earned the AAC $1,367,500 over the next six years, with each school affiliated with basketball to receive $113,958 if split evenly.

UCF earned three units, Temple earned one and Cincinnati earned zero, as it lost in its first game after it auto-qualified from winning the AAC Tournament. That means Houston will earn $113,958 from those schools’ success.

But why is the money shared? It’s pretty simple. Not every school that was good this year will remain good, and not every school that was bad this year will stay that way.

UConn sits near the bottom of the conference right now, but in 2014, the squad won the national championship, which the conference is still making money off of.

Units are also kept in the conference in which it was earned, so if UConn were to leave the AAC, the 10 units the team earned in 2014 and the two in 2016 would stay in the AAC.

As Houston and the AAC continue to build its basketball profile, expect those unit numbers to grow each year.

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