By Zach Young
As the United States bears the unforeseen consequences of a rapidly developing virus, many college presidents and athletic directors will look one of their worst fears in the eyes. They have recently turned their attention to the impact of a potential loss or shortening of the 2020 college football season. Of course, for entertainment reasons, the intense moments and high stakes action on the field will be missed. But more importantly, universities are now being reminded of the true monetary value that college football has on other collegiate athletics.
For instance, when looking at the University of Alabama, files from the NCAA reported a total of “$108.2 million in revenue in 2017” for the football program, which accounts for “62% of the total revenue.” All of the accrued money that doesn’t pay directly to the team is then distributed to help fund other athletic programs at the school. Even with universities that are known as big “basketball schools”, football continues to be the primary financial driver. The unfortunate result of eliminating the impending season is a complete shuttering of non-revenue generating sports. These are described as the specific athletics that lose more money than they bring into the university. Some of the more common non-revenue sports are gymnastics, softball, men’s golf, and women’s basketball. Unfortunately, these and many other smaller athletic programs may very well be cancelled, if the country doesn’t show substantial improvements in controlling COVID-19.
With the recent repeal of college basketball’s March Madness tournament, and the current football issues, it is safe to say athletic departments are under immense pressure. Such a great deal of college funding comes in through TV advertisements for these major sporting events. If future events continue to be absent, there will be drastic fiscal impacts that would alter college athletics for years to come. An anonymous FBS athletic director was quoted saying “If there is no season, we will be (expletive).” As this virus continues to pan out, it leaves much uncertainty for the state of college athletics. Until it gets closer, NCAA will look into conceivably postponing the football season into late fall.