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The Retrievers won the nine-team America East Conference with a thrilling win over top-seeded Vermont in the conference tournament, sending them to their first NCAA Tournament since 2008. And in doing so, they were responsible for a $1.638 million payday for the conference. While that payday would've come regardless of who represented the America East in the tournament, it was what UMBC did in the tournament that doubled the amount.
The NCAA distributes a portion of NCAA Tournament revenue through the Basketball Fund, a multimillion pool made up of units. One unit is earned by making an appearance in a tournament game. So, for example, UMBC earned one unit for just appearing in the First Round. Each unit is worth $273,000 each year for the next six years, or $1.638 million total. The money is paid out to the conferences, who decide how to split it up among members.
With UMBC advancing to play Kansas State in the Second Round, they earned an additional $1.638 million for the America East, bringing their total to $3.276 million. The conferences pay out the money however they wish but, for example, if they were to distribute it evenly among all nine members, that's $364,000 per school.
For an athletics department with an annual budget just over $9 million, that $364,000 payday (or more if the conference awards them more than an equal one-ninth cut) is a huge amount of money.
And remember that's just money from one source, the Basketball Fund, and does not include apparel sales, endorsement deals and other revenue-generating items resulting from the win.