NCAA hit hard by pandemic last fiscal year, spent $68M on legal fees

The Indianapolis-based NCAA spent nearly $68 million on legal services during the 2019-20 fiscal year even as it lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in the pandemic, according to tax documents released Monday.

Revenue was down more than 50% over the previous year, from more than $1.1 billion to just more than $520 million, mostly because the lucrative college basketball tournaments were canceled as the coronavirus hit the United States hard early in 2020. The NCAA’s fiscal year runs Sept. 1-Aug. 31.

The media rights loss for the men’s tourney alone was $702 million, the NCAA said. Championship revenue was down $162 million due to the cancellation of winter and spring title events, though the NCAA said the blow was offset to some extent since expenses for those dropped by $119 million.

Saying it “continues to defend its mission and core values,” the NCAA also listed its legal expenses for 2019-20 at $67.7 million, more than double the $33 million the previous year “due to an accrual of $34.8 million related to the Alston case.”

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA in that case, upholding a lower court’s ruling in an antitrust case. The 9-0 decision means the NCAA cannot cap compensation schools provide to athletes for educational benefits.

The 990 tax form, which the NCAA is required to file as a tax-exempt organization, also showed President Mark Emmert’s compensation for the fiscal year at more than $2.8 million.

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