Many tourney teams don't turn profit

More than two of every five teams in the NCAA tournament either didn't make a dime or lost money on their men's basketball program last year.

That's at least according to what the schools themselves filed to the government as part of Equity in Athletics reporting that is required by all schools that receive federal student financial aid.

Twenty three of the 68 schools (33.8 percent) reported that they spent as much as they made for the 2013-14 school year. Those schools included every 15th and 16th seed, which reported $0 made from each of their programs.

Five schools in this year's tournament -- West Virginia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, UC Irvine and Davidson -- reported losses. West Virginia lost the most ($2.2 million), followed by Notre Dame ($2 million).

Butler reported that it made $1 on its basketball program last year.

Big schools whose reports reflected they made no money included Cincinnati, Baylor, St. John's and Georgetown.

Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn said the numbers presented were accurate, but it doesn't speak to the relative health of his school's program.

"Last year, we had our highest per game attendance average in 10 years, we saw a 35 percent increase in season-ticket sales and our sales in our upper deck were at a nine-year high," he said. "But we also spent more money, to hire a third party to help us with things like making it a better environment for students, who are our donors for the future."

As the NCAA and former student-athletes prepare for the appeal of the Ed O'Bannon case on Tuesday, Bohn said athletic directors have to do a better job of educating players on the cost of doing business.

"We need to tell them more about the cost of having the best tutors, being on the best charter flights, staying in the best hotels, eating the best food, having the best supplements, having the best coaches," Bohn said.

Louisville, with $40.5 million in revenues, is the tournament team that reported the biggest profit last year -- $24.2 million. Arizona ($17.7M), Ohio State ($15.3M), North Carolina ($13.6M) and Duke ($12.8M) finished out the top five most profitable basketball programs.

While schools are required to file numbers, how schools report the data varies greatly, depending on what they choose to attribute to a certain program. For example, a school might decide to attribute more or less TV revenue, sponsorship money or donations to the basketball team when it's not exactly clear how much came in from the program alone.

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that virtually all the money Notre Dame receives from the NCAA and ACC is for Olympic sports, because the school is independent for football. And while most of that money is attributed to men's basketball, Notre Dame does not add that into the revenue column for the team.

"There is some truth to the fact that our revenues are not comparable on a per-game basis with the Kentuckys and Louisvilles of the world," he said. "We don't sell commercial signage, we don't have suites and we don't serve alcohol. So we are limited by the choices we make."

For the 2008-09 season, Duke's numbers actually showed a $2 million loss from its basketball program, which wasn't the reality. Because Duke isn't a public institution, the actual math behind the calculation -- what was omitted -- was never seen.