By Rachel Backman
Companies including AT&T Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and others together pay more than $200 million every year to associate their brands with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Their sponsorship fees give them the exclusive right to associate with 90 NCAA sports championships.
Yet the big sponsorship dollars aren’t helping any of the sports except one—Division I men’s basketball—prove the commercial worth of their championship events and attract new investment that could expand their audiences.
That’s because the corporate sponsorship dollars aren’t paid to the NCAA at all. Instead, a decade ago the NCAA handed off its sponsorship program to CBS and Turner Sports as part of the broadcasting deal for the men’s basketball tournament.