The cancellation of last year's March Madness basketball tournament cost the NCAA $800 million ©Getty Images

Cancellation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament last year because of the coronavirus pandemic cost the organisation $800 million (£585 million/€665 million), new figures have revealed.

The event, known as March Madness, a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States, featuring 68 college basketball teams from the Division I level, is a huge money-spinner of the NCAA.

But its cancellation meant the NCAA were hit hard by the loss of ticket sales and its television and marketing rights agreements, according to Sportico.

In 2019, the NCAA received $804 million (£588 million/€668 million) from its television agreements with CBS and Turner.

In 2020, those payments were reduced to $113.1 million (£82.7 million/€94.1 million) when they had been scheduled to receive $827 million (£605 million/€687 million).

However, the league reportedly received $270 million (£197 million/€224 million) from event cancellation insurance.

Due to the revenue losses, the NCAA distributed only $246 million (£180 million/€204 million) to Division I schools and conferences in 2020, compared to $611 million (£447 million/€508 million) in 2019.

The NCAA announced earlier last month that it will hold this year’s March Madness in its entirety in the state of Indiana, with the majority of the tournament's 67 games taking place in Indianapolis.

The decision was made "to enhance the safety and well-being of the event."

The March Madness basketball tournament is usually a huge money-spinner for the NCAA ©Getty Images
The March Madness basketball tournament is usually a huge money-spinner for the NCAA ©Getty Images

The flagship college basketball tournament in Indianapolis had been scheduled to be held across 13 different sites all over the US.

The NCAA is to work with local health organisations to administer COVID-19 testing at the competition, and said it is collaborating with the Marion County Health Department to establish its protocols.

It will also work with the city and state to promote "Mask Madness", a campaign promoting health and safety by practicing social distancing and wearing masks.

As part of the initiative, the NCAA will donate thousands of masks throughout the state in the build-up to the tournament.

The college basketball season started later than normal last November because of the coronavirus but games are still being regularly cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.

In 2019, the Virginia Cavaliers won their first title after defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who also made their first final that year.

The NCAA is currently nearing the end of a 14-year, $10.8 billion (£7.9 billion/€8.9 billion) television agreement with CBS and Turner.

In 2025 it is due to start an extension of that deal, which will pay $8.8 billion (£6.4 billion/€7.3 billion) over eight years.