Financial ‘jackpot’ unlikely for cash-strapped Saint Peter’s Peacocks despite NCAA tournament revenue

PHILADELPHIA — One of the most endearing facets of the Saint Peter NCAA Tournament is the proportional size of the school’s athletic budget compared to the schools it killed.

Saint Peter’s beat No. 2 Kentucky, No. 7 Murray State and No. 3 Purdue, which is remarkable considering Saint Peter’s spent $130 million less on athletics last year than Kentucky. Saint Peter athletic director Rachelle Paul said the school’s basketball operating budget, which does not include coaching salaries, is less than $250,000 and the lowest figure by far. of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

When Saint Peter’s No. 15 takes on North Carolina’s No. 8 for a Final Four chance on Sunday, a thorny question will arise for MAAC and Saint Peter’s going forward. How do they share the spoils of the magic race of Saint-Pierre?

NCAA tournament money calculations are flawed, but it’s safe to estimate that Saint Peter’s three tournament wins will mean a windfall of at least $6 million in extra money from the three additional NCAA units. . This money is distributed to MAAC over the next six years, and the league has autonomy as to how to distribute the money.

“I’d like to see whatever the breakdown among MAAC members, I’d like to see St. Pierre get a little more,” Paul said. “We’re the ones doing this, quite frankly.”

Paul added that St. Peter’s accomplishment and the financial boost that comes with it are “unprecedented”. MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor, a graduate of St. Pierre, acknowledges this, but said a windfall is unlikely to be headed to St. Pierre.

Ensor said the ultimate decision on how to fairly compensate Saint-Pierre is something he should “make with my board of directors,” which is made up of MAAC presidents. Ensor said there is already a distribution system in place that allows a “modest” slice of money for teams that have won the tournament. The rest of the excess money should be spent on improving basketball in the league.

“I don’t foresee there being a jackpot,” he said of Saint Peter’s. “[The presidents] could go in another direction. It’s really not my decision. They tend to want to reinvest.”

Different leagues handle unit money distribution in different ways. It is not uncommon for a league to weight the distribution towards teams that win more games.

For a league like MAAC, which doesn’t have the revenue of major football conferences, a race like this is transformative. MAAC has not received more than one unit in the NCAA Tournament since 2009.

MAAC, like all conferences with an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament, is guaranteed one unit each year. This year, those units are worth $338,210.96, according to the NCAA. These units are paid over six years and, according to the NCAA, they fluctuate with broadcast rights. So that means each unit is worth at least $338,210.96 over six years, or $2,029,265. For MAAC, that means this race is worth more than $8.1 million, of which $2 million was already guaranteed. How could more of that money dedicated to St. Peter help the infamous cash-strapped program?

“Oh, my God,” Paul said. “It could change our whole program. It could help with recruitment, it could help with scholarships, it could help with improving facilities. There’s a million things we could use that money for.”

Saint Peter coach Shaheen Holloway earns nearly $266,000 a year, according to the latest available tax documents. (The possibility of him going to Seton Hall, his alma affair, looms in part because they can pay him almost ten times more than Saint Peter’s.)

The Saint-Pierre basketball team has four members who are completely unpaid, according to Paul. And even Saint Peter’s as a university has a smaller endowment ($37 million) than Kentucky coach John Calipari’s current contract total ($86 million). Paul said basketball’s modest operating budget doesn’t even include things like paying officials because fundraising is needed for things that many have money allocated for.

“I would say we have a ways to go to get to a point where we’re comfortable not doing calculations for every road trip and every hotel,” she said. “I probably make it look more serious than it is. But we’re very conscientious about what we spend the money on. It’s only going so far.”

When St. Peter’s run ends, there will be plenty of eyes on campus to find out how he is being rewarded financially for his efforts.