The moment haunted college administrators. A callow freshman standing at the foul line, no time left on the clock, the game hanging in the balance.
Steady, now.Don't be nervous, just because there are a couple of hundred thousand dollars riding on the free throw.
A kid would need nerves of steel to deal with that moment. There are pro players whose knees would turn to jelly in that situation.
The $200,000 Free Throw was NCAA executive director Dick Schultz' worst nightmare. But because of revenue reforms, it was not a problem Monday night when Duke faced Kansas for college basketball's national championship.
Making or missing the free throw might decide the outcome of the game, but that one shot can't impact on a school's take from the basketball bonanza. That number was set well in advance of the tournament's first tipoff.
The payoff for Duke was $792,047, based on the Atlantic Coast Conference's $6,336,378 share of this year's share of the $1 billion CBS TV contract. That's for playing one game and washing out in the first round or going all the way to the Final Four.
North Carolina, also from the ACC, got the same cut. Big Eight member Kansas received $529,578. UNLV, from the less prestigious Big West, went home with $203,846, according to figures released by the NCAA.
Until this season, revenue from the tournament depended on how far a team advanced. Play one game, you got so much. Win that and play another and the take was increased. Hence, Schultz' $200,000 Free Throw was really often worth much more than that.
With the CBS windfall in its hip pocket, the NCAA sought a more equitable distribution of funds. It developed a complicated formula that sought to turn the dollars into instruments of reform. The result was increased payouts for all 294 members of Division I. The flip side of that, however, were reduced paydays for Final Four teams. Duke and UNLV, for example, each made $1.1 million for reaching that level a year ago.
This year's basketball pool contained $31.25 million, down from last year's $36 million. What are the other dollars doing? They were put to work benefiting lower profile Division I programs in other sports, an admirable cause.
The total of all benefits paid to member institutions and student-athletes was $108.25 million with the basketball pool making up the bulk of that figure. Other big ticket items on the budget were championships expenses of $24.67 million for transportation and per diems, an increase of over $11 million from last year, and $20.83 million for grants-in-aid.
Distribution of the basketball funds now depends on the performance of each school's conference - not the school itself - in the previous six tournaments. Each game represents one unit and the formula assigned a value of $43,100 to each unit with a limit of five units per school per year.
With payoffs based on six years worth of conference tournament wins and losses, some schools prospered and others suffered. The modestly successful Big West Conference, where UNLV plays, received $1,120,690 from the basketball pool and $2,038,465 in total distributions, while the ACC received $3,965,517 in basketball funds - the most for any conference - and a total payoff of $6,336,378.
The smallest payoff of the tournament went to the Big South Conference, whose allocation totaled $340,500. That meant Coastal Carolina, a first-round loser to Indiana, had the tournament's most modest takeout, a bargain basement $42,563.