College Basketball Economics

The beginning of 2018 has been a momentous one for Northern Nevadans. Our region produced an Olympic Gold Medalist in David Wise and the University of Nevada, Reno’s men’s basketball team battled their way to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen and remain poised for a potential birth in the Elite Eight. The Nevada Women’s basketball team has also reached the Women’s Basketball Invitational tournament’s semi-final round, which makes Nevada one of only a handful of schools with both their Men’s and Women’s basketball programs still competing in the post season.

With the university having debatably its most successful basketball season and national news agencies covering our accomplishments, I wondered what effect their success plays on our local economy. Surely, local restaurants and bars will see an uptick in revenue as Wolf Pack fans band together for viewing parties. University apparel has been flying off the shelves and there is reason to believe ticket sales for next season will surge given the assumption most of the Men’s teams star players will return for another year. However, with each nail-biting win comes another flight, another hotel stay and elongated spending as the season stretches toward what will hopefully be a chance at the national championship.

Interestingly, our athletic success reaps rewards beyond the university and greater Reno-Sparks area. The Mountain West conference and its member universities, which includes UNR, will receive monetary benefits as a result of Nevada and San Diego State’s appearances in the NCAA tournament. The NCAA distributes checks each April to all 32 Division I conferences that produce teams in the annual tournament. This year, Nevada and San Diego State found their way into the Big Dance and the rest of the Mountain West conference will benefit from our combined success. Every game a conference’s team appears in during the tournament results in a payout to the conference as a whole, which in 2018 amounts to $273,000.00 paid out over six years. As a result, each member university of the Mountain West receives additional revenue to help cover operational costs of their respective athletic programs.

During the regular season we root for Wolf Pack victories, however, in the post season, even rival schools like UNLV and Boise State should want to see Nevada continue to advance through the tournament. Each Nevada victory helps with the overall financial health of all member university’s athletic programs. The more teams a conference can produce in the NCAA tournament increases the financial benefit for every school competing for a chance to play in the post season next year.

Regardless of the team you root for it clearly pays to play together. This Thursday, The Wolf Pack takes on Loyola Chicago in the Sweet Sixteen and Renoites won’t be the only fans hoping we win.