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
- "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.
- Ken Reed's Author Page on Amazon
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
A League of Fans Special Report