The NCAA board of governors voted unanimously on Thursday to distribute $225 million to Division I schools in June -- less than half of what it had previously budgeted -- following the cancellation of its basketball tournaments and other winter and spring championships because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The NCAA had planned to distribute about $600 million, with the first distribution scheduled for April.
The NCAA generates most of its revenue from TV and marketing rights from the men's basketball tournament, along with ticket sales from national championship events.
The NCAA said $50 million will come from its reserves and that it also has a $270 million event cancellation insurance policy, which will be used to pay off a line of credit to cover the remaining distribution within 12 months.
"We are living in unprecedented times not only for higher education but for the entire nation and around the globe as we face the COVID-19 public health crisis," Michael V. Drake, NCAA board of governors chairman and Ohio State president, said in a statement. "As an Association, we must acknowledge the uncertainties of our financial situation and continue to make thoughtful and prudent decisions on how we can assist conferences and campuses in supporting student-athletes now and into the future."
NCAA president Mark Emmert told ESPN last week that the national governing body was "going to have to do some more hard things to figure out how we move forward."
"We've got some cash reserves and a variety of things, but is it going to be painful? Absolutely. It's going to be very hard," Emmert said.
In the statement, Drake said the NCAA is also considering numerous cost-cutting budget measures.
"The Association has prepared for a financial catastrophic event like the one we face now," Drake said. "While we certainly have challenges ahead, we would be in a far worse position had it not been for this long-standing, forward-focused planning."
According to the NCAA, Division II members will receive 4.37% of actual revenues, currently projected to be about $13.9 million, which is $30 million less than last year. Division III will receive 3.18% of actual revenues, about $10.7 million, which is about $22 million less than last year.
The reduced NCAA distributions means many conferences will have less money to share with their member schools.
During a teleconference with reporters on Thursday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the smaller distributions from the NCAA would cost the league about $14 million. He expected the league to receive about $10 million from the NCAA, instead of an anticipated $24 million.
Bowlsby said the cancellation of the Big 12 basketball tournaments would result in about $6.6 million in losses. With the league eliminating some costs related to travel, staffing and other expenses, he estimated the overall losses between $15 million and $18 million.
Bowlsby said he anticipated the Big 12 would still be able to "make members whole" in financial distributions this year by using its reserves.
The Big 12 distributed $373.9 million for the fiscal year ending in June 2018, with distributions ranging from $36.6 million to Oklahoma to $33.6 million to Kansas.
"I think you'll see budgets on campus flat and salary budgets flat," Bowlsby said. "It's not a time when we're going to throw a lot of money around. We're all going to have to be careful about our management of resources."
Bowlsby said the entire college sports landscape would have to change if the upcoming football season can't be played this fall.
"It's a whole new ballgame if we find ourselves not playing football, because it affects everything we do," Bowlsby said. "It affects the largest portion of our TV contract, and it affects the largest source of campus revenue, which is live games. Anything that I say regarding finances has to make the assumption we're going to be back to playing football in the fall. If that doesn't happen, the underpinning of what we know as normal goes away and we'll have major changes to make."
ESPN's Heather Dinich contributed to this report.