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UND profits from tournament publicity, not payments

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Even though UND won’t see any financial gain from the women’s basketball team playing in its first Division I NCAA tournament, the exposure will pay tenfold.

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“It pays you in ways that maybe can’t be as easily quantified,” Assistant Athletic Director Daniella Irle said.

Irle said the game against Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, is a great opportunity to reach possible recruits and gain publicity.

“We’re now exposing a region of the country to UND that maybe isn’t even aware of us and you can’t put a dollar value on that,” Irle said.

The NCAA does cover most travel, food and hotel expenses for the team, so Irle said the cost to go is “very minimal” and worth it.

“We’re going to get a lot of media coverage,” she said. “You couldn’t afford to buy that kind of coverage.”

The NCAA pays more money overall to men’s teams because those games are more popular. In 2012, about 45 percent of the NCAA’s operating expenses for all sports including basketball went toward men’s teams, while only 18 percent went to women’s, according to the NCAA’s Intercollegiate Athletics Programs Report.

But Irle said schools with either men’s or women’s teams really don’t start seeing any money until the 64-team tournament is down to fewer teams, and even when they do, it’s not enough to make much of a difference.

“It’s a helpful supplement, but it’s by no means budget-making,” she said. “You have to get into the final four before you start seeing anything meaningful.”

UND spokesman Peter Johnson said while the school isn’t doing any extra promotional advertising for the game, it’s very beneficial to have the women play in the conference.

“They get you visibility that you wouldn’t otherwise get,” he said. “Texas is a long way from North Dakota, so going down there is definitely a good thing.”

The game will air at 7 p.m. Sunday and will be carried on ESPN2 (Channel 26 in Grand Forks).

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