UNLV racks up $600K thanks to rival Wolf Pack’s NCAA Tournament run

Updated March 19, 2018 - 7:15 pm

Each time UNR wins, so does UNLV.

The Rebels are certain to pocket nearly $100,000 next fiscal year — and about $600,000 over the next six years — and will get more if UNR continues to advance in the NCAA Tournament.

That’s because each Mountain West team receives a share depending on how many games its members play in the tournament. After going two years with only one bid, the Wolf Pack and San Diego State made it from the Mountain West this season.

The Aztecs were eliminated in the first round by Houston 67-65, but UNR is in the Sweet 16 after beating Texas 87-83 in overtime and coming back from 22 points down Sunday to defeat Cincinnati 75-73. That rally tied the second largest in NCAA Tournament history.

UNR next plays another surprise team at 4:07 p.m. Thursday when the Wolf Pack meet Loyola of Chicago in Atlanta. The winner of that game plays Kentucky or Kansas State for a trip to the Final Four in San Antonio.

“We always root for our Mountain West colleagues in the postseason and are happy for the Wolf Pack’s success,” UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said. “We wish them nothing but the best as they continue representing our great state in the tournament.”

Reed-Francois has the challenging job of trying to balance UNLV’s athletic budget, which isn’t easy when its top two revenue-producing sports struggle to draw crowds. So she is in tune with the benefits a deep tournament run by the Wolf Pack can mean for the Rebels.

UNR has been quite a resilient team during this stretch. The Wolf Pack have trailed at halftime for five games in a row, including one in the Mountain West tournament against the Rebels. UNR came back to win that game 79-74 and end UNLV’s season.

In the NCAA Tournament, UNR rallied from 14 points behind against Texas, before mounting Sunday’s big rally against the Bearcats.

“Our guys believed that it was possible, and last year I believe we were down 26 at New Mexico and then came back and won that game,” Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman said Monday on the Dan Patrick Show. “When we say we can come back, our guys definitely believe it. We don’t want to put ourselves in that position continually. I’m proud we had no quit in us because we were getting it handed to us.”

For UNLV and the Mountain West, UNR’s success means everyone gets a little richer each time a conference team advances. The amount is paid out on a six-year basis, with $273,000 distributed next fiscal year per game appearance — or unit, according to the NCAA — and in the case of the Mountain West is divided by all 11 basketball-playing members.

So the Mountain West is up to four units for this year’s tournament, with San Diego State’s appearance and UNR preparing to play its third game. UNLV, so far, will receive $99,273 for the next fiscal year, and that figure will increase by 2 to 3 percent annually over the following five years.

That means in the long run that UNLV will make at least $600,000 over the coming years off this tournament.

More Rebels: Follow all of our UNLV coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJRebels on Twitter.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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