NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Columbus Practice

Mar 21, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; General view of March Madness basketballs during practice before the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoskij-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA is reducing its distribution to Division I conferences and schools from approximately $600 million to $225 million, the entity announced Thursday.

The sharp decline is largely because of the cancellation of the Division I men's basketball tournament due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"March Madness" pulled in over $1 billion in 2019, according to multiple media reports, and NCAA board of governors chairman Michael Drake said more cost-cutting maneuvers could be on the way.

"The association has prepared for a financial catastrophic event like the one we face now," said Drake, the president of Ohio State. "While we certainly have challenges ahead, we would be in a far worse position had it not been for this long-standing, forward-focused planning."

The tournament was canceled on March 12, one day after NBA player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

Thursday would have marked the start of the Sweet 16 round, and the championship game was slated for April 6 in Atlanta.

NCAA chief financial officer Kathleen McNeely told USA Today that the financial distributions will be made in June.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said his conference keeps an operating reserve for circumstances outside of its control.

"We have some money beyond that that was a result of money that we withheld last year for another purpose," Bowlsby said on a conference call.

However, if the pandemic continues into the end of summer and into the fall, there are major worries.

"It's a whole new ballgame if we find ourselves not playing football," Bowlsby said.

And if there are football games, Bowlsby acknowledged they might be held without fans.

"We're in unprecedented times," Bowlsby said. "Just a week ago now, it seems like a lot longer, that we missed the first day of March Madness. The number of changes over the last week have been extraordinary."

--Field Level Media

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