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Here's how much Nevada women's basketball paid to play in the WBI

Audrey Roden and the Wolf Pack women's basketball team played three games in the WBI last week. (Nevada athletics)
Audrey Roden and the Wolf Pack women's basketball team played three games in the WBI last week. (Nevada athletics)
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Unlike the NCAA Tournament, the lower-level postseason basketball tournaments come with an entry fee and/or associated costs.

That was the case for the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) the Wolf Pack played in last weekend. Nevada had an entry fee of $15,000 to play in the eight-team event, per the contract the Wolf Pack signed with Sports Tours International (STI), Inc., which was provided to NSN through a public records request.

Nevada also was responsible for its travel-related expenses, including flights, bus, hotel and meals. The contract stipulated the Wolf Pack had to pay STI $160 per night per hotel room. Given the team's five-night stay in Lexington, Ky., that's an additional cost of roughly $8,000 to $10,000 plus flights for a total cost, including tournament participation fee, of around $35,000.

In years past, the CBI/WBI could have been a source of profit. But the WBI was moved to a neutral site in 2021, a format that also was used in 2022. In years prior, teams would pay a fee to host games and keep ticket revenue, making it a potential boom-or-bust financial situation.

When the Nevada men's basketball team won the 2016 CBI, it hosted five of its six games in the tournament, paying $305,000 in the process ($40,000 for each of its first two tournament games and $75,000 for each of the last three). But it made $650,000 in ticket revenue in those games, drawing 9,043 fans in game three of the championship series, a victory over Morehead State. Even after accounting for a chartered flight to Morehead State as part of the three-game championship series, Nevada cleared an estimated $200,000 in net profit from its CBI run.

The neutral-site location makes turning a profit off playing in the CBI/WBI impossible, but it does lessen the chance of taking a big financial hit. After the 2020-21 season, the Nevada men's basketball team decided against pursuing a spot in the CBI, citing the finances of such a tournament, after going 16-10 overall and finishing fifth in the Mountain West at 10-7.

Nevada went 1-2 in last week's WBI, which was hosted by Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. The Wolf Pack beat Davidson in the first round, 76-63, before losing to Cleveland State, 58-50, in the semifinals and dropping the third-place game to Bowling Green, 73-65. That one postseason win secured the Wolf Pack the second 20-win season in program history. Nevada finished the year 20-13.

In addition to hitting 20 wins, playing in the WBI gave additional postseason experience to the Wolf Pack, which could return most of its core pieces from this year's team, which finished tied for third in the MW with a 11-6 league record. Nevada was hoping to get a WNIT invitation but those bids went to MW schools New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado State and Air Force (New Mexico and Wyoming have both reached the Sweet 16 of the 64-team field).

"I thought it was really important that we played in another tournament in the postseason," Nevada head coach Amanda Levens said prior to the tournament. "We were playing three freshmen. They're playing quite a bit for us. We have a pretty young team balanced with a lot of veterans as well. And so if you look at the trajectory of programs like UCLA and Arizona, when they've gone to the WNIT and done well, all of a sudden they're in the Final Four or national championship game a couple of years later. So I think going to something like this and playing well, giving your team a taste of this, it could really springboard to propel you forward."

The Wolf Pack's $15,000 participation fee is due to Sports Tours International, Inc. by April 20.

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