NCAA Sees Dollar Signs in Sports Stats, Signs 10-Year Data Deal

(Bloomberg) -- For years, college sports stats and records have existed in hundreds of different places, with individual schools and conferences doing their own collection, aggregation and distribution.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is finally changing that. The NCAA has signed a 10-year partnership with U.K.-based Genius Sports to centralize the data, and ideally make some money off it.

“It was really just recently that we started to say to ourselves, ‘Wait a minute, all these statistics are big data, and that’s valuable in this era of analytics,’” said Oliver Luck, the NCAA’s executive vice president of regulatory affairs and strategic partnerships.

Under the new agreement, Genius Sports will capture metrics and stats ranging from basic scoring to advanced metrics for coaches. The collection will start with men’s and women’s basketball, then expand to other sports. In basketball, for example, the data will include shooting, fouls and turnovers by location, player efficiency and other metrics.

The two groups will share revenue from the sale of the data, including deals with media companies that want the information to use during broadcasts or with fan sites that want to deliver statistical analysis for die-hards. Schools will be offered the technology free for three years.

The NCAA, which just passed $1 billion in annual revenue, is behind professional leagues when it comes to making money off data and streams of statistics. The new tie-up pairs Genius Sports with a governing body whose popularity rivals the NBA and NFL in many parts of the U.S.

“We see richer data as an integral part of a sport’s growth strategy,” said Genius Sports Chief Executive Officer Mark Locke. “Ten years gives us a chance to grow something that helps change the technology fabric of the NCAA.”

While there’s nothing in this partnership to address gambling, deals like this are often the first step toward selling a sport’s data more broadly, including to sports-book operators. Luck said the NCAA, which has been staunchly opposed to legalized sports gambling, has no intention of opening those conversations any time soon.

But the ground is shifting as the entire sports industry waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on New Jersey’s challenge to the federal sports betting ban. Last week, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced the framework for a law that, according to ESPN, includes a cut of sports bets to be given to West Virginia University and Marshall University, the state’s two top-tier NCAA schools. The NCAA also recently amended its bylaws to allow athletes to appeal potential violations of its strict no-gambling policies.

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