Over the past 3½ years, the NCAA has spent well more than $70 million on outside legal services.

Now it is suing a group of insurance companies to try to recover a portion of that money.

In the suit, the NCAA claims it is entitled to coverage of some past and potentially future legal costs as well as a portion of a proposed $209 million settlement it recently reached in one case.

The NCAA’s complaint — in a state court in Indianapolis, where the association is headquartered — was filed in January 2016 against four insurers. A recently updated version added four more companies.


At issue are an array of policies that the NCAA bought in 2005 and from 2012 through 2015 for a combined total of more than $20 million. The policies, according to various court filings, were designed to help protect the association against the costs of antitrust or wage-related lawsuits.

The NCAA is facing — or has faced — four such cases that were filed during the years covered by the policies. Between the policies’ prices, their combined coverage limits and the association’s defense and settlement costs, tens of millions of dollars could be at stake.

That may not seem like a lot for an organization that annually takes in roughly $1 billion and has lined up roughly $16 billion in media and marketing rights fees alone over the next 15 years. But since the beginning of its 2016 fiscal year, Sept. 1, 2015, the NCAA has committed to the proposed $209 million settlement; approved and made a one-time supplemental distribution of $200 million to Division I members that resulted in the liquidation of an endowment fund; and has had to count as an expense more than $42.3 million in attorney’s fees and costs to lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon case (an amount that is on appeal).

As a result, NCAA chief financial officer Kathleen McNeely told USA TODAY Sports…