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Report: Wichita State actually lost money by making the Final Four

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Greg Marshall has upped the profile of WSU, but at a cost in the short-term. (USATSI)
Greg Marshall has upped the profile of WSU, but at a cost in the short-term. (USATSI)

Wichita State has really increased its national profile with an undefeated season on the heels of that 2013 Final Four run. But who knew there'd be fiscal downfall as a result?

Forbes.com reports that the trip to Atlanta last year wound up costing the college some cash. In winning four big dance games, that means more travel for a lot more people and expenses factored in that aren't originally estimated in the university's budget. It certainly adds up -- and the money bonuses for advancing through the bracket don't get paid out in one lump sum to each program. It's a six-year stagger of distribution.

Plus, when a coach has incentives in his contract that earn him bonuses for going further in the tournament, that money he's paid comes out of the school budget.

So that's how Wichita State ended up in the red in the short-term. Forbes reports the team's $5.4 million in expenses last season were 16 percent above the preceding years' average. Normally the school nets about $1 million. Think about that imbalance.

Head coach Gregg Marshall, for instance, made over $100,000 just from a handful of bonuses related to tournament play. But while direct spending skyrocketed, the prize money payouts were minimal. The NCAA's tournament distributions are spread out over six-year rolling periods, with conferences receiving around $1.5 million for every tournament game played by member schools.
Put another way, that means Wichita State's performance last year will net the Missouri Valley Conference more than $7.5 million over the next six years. That number shrinks quite a bit, however, when broken down to the per-school level. Rege Klitzke, the head of the Wichita State Athletic Department's business office, says that, after the conference gets a share, the NCAA distribution amounts to an extra $70,000 to $80,000 for the school each year.
According to Klitzke, “From a strictly numbers standpoint, [the financial gains] are not as substantial as some people tend to think.”

The long-term positive economical effects for Wichita State should balance the scales in time. I'm assuming the team is making more money off apparel than ever, and by getting to February without a loss, exposure has never been higher for the Shockers. Studies in the past have shown success of college basketball and football teams leads to a rise in university enrollment as well.

Forbes.com also noted that Syracuse, which also made the 2013 Final Four, spent $14 million last year.

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