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Where Did D1 Wrestling Rank in the NCAA Tournament Revenue Food Chain?

Unlike football, where the schools receive the money from TV and advertising, the revenue raised for NCAA wrestling, basketball and many other tournaments, goes directly to the NCAA, not the schools.

According to Randy L. Buhr, associate director of NCAA D1 championships, “There are 88 NCAA championships and wrestling ranks in the top five in terms of revenue-producing championships.  The last report was that it was the No. 4 revenue producing event.”  Here’s the top four in order.

1. Mens D1 Basketball Final Four

2. Mens College World Series & Regionals

3. Mens Frozen Four in Hockey

4. Mens D1 Wrestling Championships.

Now, according to newly released data from the College Sports Council more than 2200 men’s athletic teams have been eliminated since 1981.  D1 wrestling teams have declined from 146 in 1981 to 86 in 2004.

Since D1 wrestling has lost almost half its programs since 1981, these are pretty darn good revenue numbers.  This also raises the question of why such a profitable sport is among the first to be eliminated when schools look for the easy way out of Title IX compliance by using proportionality?

If we were talkin’ 10 or even 15 tournaments, then ranking 4th wouldn’t seem that impressive.  But with 88 tournaments, most people would be surprised at the revenue-generating power of wrestling. Who knew?

By: Rick Contrata

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