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HomeBasketballNCAA BasketballOakland University men's hoops tourney win is big business

Oakland University men’s hoops tourney win is big business

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Oakland University guard Jack Gohlke had an out-of-body experience in leading the No. 14 seed Grizzlies to a 80-76 win over No. 3 seeded University of Kentucky in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Gohlke’s stats don’t look real.

The senior transfer from small Hillsdale College in his first year of D-I ball took 364 shots from 3 against just eight 2-point attempts. Gohlke, who came off the bench in the March 21 tournament win, doesn’t look to drive and rarely dribbles. He’s almost like Klay Thompson lite.

Gohlke in the win over Kentucky shot 10/20 from 3. He cooled off in the team’s second-round overtime loss to North Carolina State, going 6/17 from deep.

Gohlke will be a legend in Rochester, Michigan, for the foreseeable future. Not only did his tournament performance boost his own profile, it helped out the Horizon League as a whole.

OU for advancing in the tournament will earn about $2 million for the 11 Horizon League schools to split over the next six years. Oakland also earned nearly $2 million for making the 68-team tournament field. For Oakland’s March 21 win, each Horizon League school will receive about $164,000 over the next six years.

The Grizzlies stood to earn as much as $8 million for the 11-team Horizon League. The amount of money each conference gets is based on the number of tournament games each team plays prior to the Final Four. The NCAA distributes the money directly to the participating conferences, not the individual schools.

Leagues of a higher profile than the Horizon League earn big paydays each March. The Big Ten this year had six teams in the field, giving the conference $12 million to split between the current 14 members. The Big Ten had four teams advance to the second round, giving the league an additional $8 million. Illinois in advancing to the Sweet Sixteen gives the conference another $2 million.

That’s a major reason some conference officials talk up their teams prior to the tournament, and why those officials voice their displeasure with the selection committee when a member is left out.

It’s a big reason why SEC commissioner Greg Sankey has advocated for more spots for high-major leagues. It has nothing to do with Sankey thinking the likes of Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are better than a team from Oakland or Dayton. It’s all about additional revenue for the league.

So when you’re watching the tournament, and a “Cinderella” makes a run, understand that the wins have a reach that extends beyond the locker room of the winning team.

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