Boy don’t you hate Duke, UNC, and Virginia? Don’t you love to see them lose in the NCAA Tournament?
Well, you really ought to root for them to win, because when they don’t, it’s bad for Virginia Tech.
Conferences receive payouts from the NCAA for tournament participation. Each NCAA Tournament game played by a team (played, not won) earns an NCAA Tournament “unit.” For each unit earned by the teams in a conference, the NCAA pays the conference about $250k a year, for six years. That’s a total of $1.6 million over six years.
For more detail and more precise numbers, you can read this March 2014 article from Forbes:
So if the ACC plays in 19 NCAA Tournament games this year, the ACC will earn 19 tournament units, and will earn about $4.75 million a year for the next six years, as payment for those 19 units.
A quote from the article above:
Perhaps the more interesting way to look at a unit’s value, however, is how much it nets a conference over its six-year life. Unit values change year to year, and next year’s  per-unit payout is projected to be $255,379, a 2.1% growth over this year. Assuming an annual 2% increase every year thereafter, a single tournament unit won this year will accrue a total value of $1.58 million across the next six distributions.
The ACC has 15 basketball schools, so divide that $1.6 million (I rounded up) by 15, and you get that Virginia Tech will receive $107,000 from each NCAA Tournament unit over six years. That’s about $17,800 a year.
So you might “hate” Duke and think it would be neat for them to lose in the first round. Well, that would only net VT $17,800 a year for the next six years (1 NCAA tournament unit).
But if Duke makes the Final Four, then they would play five games and earn five tournament units. That’s five units for the ACC …. and about $89,000 a year for VT, instead of just about $17,800.
As the article linked above says (it was written in 2014, but the ACC bids are the same this year, 6):
This year the ACC has six teams in the big dance, which means the conference is assured $1.5 million this year and another $8 million over the next five just from this year’s tournament – and that’s assuming all of those teams lose their first-round games. If just one team makes a run to the Final Four, it will add another $1.1 million to the conference take in each of the next six years.
$1.1 million divided by 15 is $73,333 extra for VT, each year, for the next six years.
That extra $73k a year for VT is a well-salaried administrative position. That’s a new support staff hire in the football office (maybe two), to help with recruiting. That’s a handful of new, fresh-out-of-college hires to do video and social media, and perhaps help land recruits or help get new members for the Hokie Club.
So, root for Duke. Root for UNC. Root for UVa. It’s good for Virginia Tech.
I bring this up because Virginia Tech fans have historically had adversarial relationships with the conferences the Hokies belong to, and the teams in those conferences. Who can forget the Big East’s shoddy treatment of the Hokies? The Big East took forever to invite the Hokies in, then gouged them for exorbitant entry fees, and failed to (for example) send Syracuse into Cassell Coliseum for four years.
And who can forget Louisville banding together with other Metro Conference members to kick the Hokies out of the conference in 1995?
Tech fans can be forgiven for casting a suspicious eye towards their own conference and the schools in it. It was well-learned over many decades. But despite how much you “hate” Duke, UNC, Virginia, and maybe other ACC schools, it’s good for VT if they win NCAA Tournament games.
N.C. State’s B.J. Anya hit a last-second game winner over LSU last night, and that was a $17,800 shot for the Hokies, not just next year, but for the next six years. That’s why I whooped in triumph when it went in. Not just because I kinda like N.C. State, but because that shot was good for the Hokies, too.
So … root for the ACC!