The NCAA Tournament is money-making heaven. As the organization's crown jewel, it rakes in more than $900 million each year and pays for many of the other sports' championship tournaments.
March Madness may be lucrative for everyone involved, including the highest-paid coaches in the sport, but the same can't necessarily be said for the people in the black-and-white-striped jerseys on the court.
The referees in the NBA and other professional leagues may make good money, but how much do NCAA referees make?
How Much Do College Basketball Referees Make?
According to reports, college basketball referees take home an average salary between $58,000 and $72,000.
The top officials in the bigger conferences like the SEC, ACC and Big Ten can be paid as much as $2,000 per game, but that number dwindles in smaller conference games. The refs making the most likely have decades of experience under their belts, too.
One thing to note, however, is that these NCAA basketball referees don't receive paid sick time or vacations because they work on a per-game basis. To make things worse, they're treated as independent contractors who must pay for their own travel. So while you may need years of experience from the high school to Division-I level to get the job, holding down your position isn't the same as other types of occupations.
These numbers may seem fine to the average couch potato wishing to be paid to watch basketball for a living, but they pale in comparison to what NBA referees make.
Now, how about at The Big Dance?
How Much Do Referees Make During the NCAA Tournament?
Referees actually make slightly less during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
According to a 2012 article in The Washington Post (via Yahoo Sports), referees made $1,200 for first-round games, $1,400 for second-round games and $2,000 for Final Four games.
The NCAA fronts all travel and hotel expenses, but as The Washington Post noted, referees don't work more than four games at the tournament. It seems most referees likely work March Madness for the experience, not the money.
All of this info may be slightly outdated at this point, but it isn't unreasonable to think these numbers haven't changed much over the last decade.
As ABC pointed out, the NCAA is a private organization and is not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, so don't expect to see any budgets any time soon.
However, the NCAA's budget for the men's tournament is nearly twice as much as it is for the women's tournament. Basketball officials make the same amount of money in both tournaments.
Sure, NCAA basketball referees don't make as much as NFL referees or NBA refs, but most of them probably have jobs in the offseason that help offset those figures. It can't be all that bad getting paid to officiate basketball games.
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