NCAA hit hard by pandemic, spent $68 million on legal fees


The NCAA spent nearly $68 million on legal services during the 2019-20 fiscal year even as it lost hundreds of millions 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 over $520 million, mostly because the lucrative college basketball tournaments were canceled as the coronavirus hit the U.S. hard early in 2020.

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 over $2.8 million.

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