NCAA taps Bain & Company for review

18 May 2023 2 min. read
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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has selected strategy firm Bain & Company to perform a review of its business.

The state-of-business review will include a top-to-bottom analysis of the entire non-profit organization, NCAA president Chris Baker told CBS Sports.

The evaluation arrives as the NCAA’s future role in college sports is in flux, fighting lawsuits concerning name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights and whether student athletes qualify as employees.

The NCAA since its founding in 1906 stuck to the principle of amateurism, holding that players could not be paid to play and could only receive scholarships. That principle has strained under the weight of the massive revenue the March Madness rakes in every year – with approximately 90% of the NCAA’s $1-billion budget coming from men’s basketball tournament revenue.

In 2021, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the NCAA that it could not limit education-related payments to student-athletes. That has resulted in a flurry of endorsements for players, as well as the formation of “collectives.” These organizations operate independently of universities and athletic departments, are typically run by alumni of the school, and focus on collecting money to pay athletes for their NIL rights as well as facilitate NIL deals with prospective recruits.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association

Val Ackerman, commissioner of the Big East conference of the NCAA, outlined to CBS Sports several changes she’d like to see enacted at the organization. Chief among them is the formation of a commercial unit to vet and maximize the value of sponsorship deals, as well as a partnership with players in relation to NIL rights.

Baker has tapped consulting firms for strategic advice in the past, having previously served as governor of Massachusetts and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

“Every time I've done this it's created a lot of clarity both where the opportunities are and where we need to get better," he told CBS Sports. "It's also a good anticipatory thing. [Bain will] come with all kinds of thoughts about the nature of the business that they see from the outside in."

Bain has extensive experience advising clients in higher education, with domain expertise in performance improvement, operating efficiency, cost management and reduction, growth strategy, organizational effectiveness, and funding strategy.

The firm has more than 15,000 employees across 40 countries.