President Trump reportedly relayed to executives of professional sports leagues that competition should be a go in the fall with fans in attendance, despite uncertainty from health experts. But when it comes to college football, officials are eager to carry out a full season.
Various NCAA figures are speaking out about their outlooks for the 2020 season, noting that the lucrative football programs at most schools make bouncing back from the COVID-19 crisis a high-stakes task.
“Virtually every program is highly reliant on football revenue,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN. “We’re making lots of contingency plans, but if you don’t get the anticipated number of games in, you lose the donations, you lose the sponsorships, you lose the gate receipts and you lose the TV. It’s potentially very impactful.”
To uphold some of that revenue college football rakes in, the Big 12 has reduced pay by 10 percent, Bowlsby’s included, and eliminated the prospect of year-end bonuses. However, that pay cut does not apply to individual coaches, with university athletic offices poised to make that decision if necessary. Bowlsby added that the season will ultimately depend on the word of health experts, though most agree that pinpointing a select date for social distancing to let up is not feasible.
Joe Castiglione, athletic director at the University of Oklahoma, has shared various contingency plans being discussed among NCAA officials. The ultimate outcome will be determined by experts’ advice based on the virus’ trajectory in the months to come.
“We’re looking at all kinds of models, between a full season starting on time, to slightly altering the start of the season, whether that means moving it up a couple of weeks, back a couple of weeks, whether that means a shortened season, whether that means moving the entire season or a portion of the season to the spring,” Castiglione revealed to reporters in a teleconference. “We’re looking at any and all kinds of models and be able to adapt to one of them depending upon what the medical experts tell us.”
Colleges around the country have been hit with financial hardships as the pandemic has closed campuses and resulting in significant losses. Athletics in particular has hurt schools’ revenue upon the cancellation of all spring sports programs, most notably the NCAA Basketball Tournament.