The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has asked for information on the NCAA’s finances -- suggesting in the process that he might next be questioning the association to justify its tax-exempt status.   "Most of the activities undertaken by educational organizations clearly further their (tax) exempt purpose," Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Calif., wrote in a letter to NCAA president Myles Brand. "The exempt purpose of intercollegiate athletics, however, is less apparent, particularly in the context of major college football and men's basketball programs."   Specifically, Thomas asked for information on the NCAA’s television contract, the salaries of coaches, school sports facilities and total annual revenues and expenditures for Division I-A football programs and Division I basketball programs. He requested a response by the end of this month.   Since 2004, the Ways and Means committee of Representatives has been conducting a broad review of the tax-exempt sector -- already looking into the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals and credit unions among others.   The NCAA's projected 2006-07 budget anticipates nearly $563 million in revenue, most from its TV contracts. More than half that figure is distributed to member leagues and schools, through student-athlete welfare, academic-enhancement and other programs. The remainder is paid according to the success of schools in the annual NCAA men's basketball tournament.   Thomas notes in his letter that the annual returns filed by the NCAA with the IRS states that the primary purpose of the NCAA is to "maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body,” and goes on to obliquely question college athletics' connection to higher education.

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