By Ken Reed
College athletic directors around the country are sweating profusely these days. The coronavirus pandemic has already cost NCAA athletic departments millions of dollars due to the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Now athletic directors are worried about the possibility that the college football season might be shortened this fall, if not cancelled completely. Football is the lifeblood of NCAA Division I (FBS and FCS) schools.
Without football revenue, college athletics programs as a whole, and some individual sports in particular, are in big trouble.
“Schools are in panic mode right now,” said Mark Wilson, the chair of the finance and sports management programs at St. Bonaventure University. “Their liabilities aren’t going to change, but their revenues will take a hit.”
The first big blow to athletic department budgets came when the NCAA Board of Governors reduced the annual amount 350 Division I schools receive from $600 million to $225 million, following the cancellation of the March Madness basketball tournaments and all winter and spring sport championships.
If the pandemic doesn’t allow football to go this fall things could get much, much worse.
The only people in the college sports world more nervous than athletic directors right now might be the coaches of minor (non-revenue) sports like baseball, track & field, cross country and gymnastics. And for good reason, those programs are in trouble.
Smaller conferences like the MAC are being hit the hardest. Bowling Green has already dropped baseball. Central Michigan chopped their track & field program. Akron is cutting men’s golf, women’s tennis and men’s cross country. Schools in other conferences are cutting sports too. Cincinnati has cut men’s soccer and Old Dominion cut wrestling.
College football coaches and players around the country are keeping their fingers crossed that there’s a season this fall/winter. They desperately want to play. But there are also a lot of non-revenue sport coaches and athletes that desperately want the college football season to take place as scheduled.
If it doesn’t, some non-revenue sports programs around the country are at a high risk of being disbanded.
That would be just one more sad outcome from this nasty pandemic.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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