Sports enthusiasts are beginning to look at sports returning in some fashion in the near future. If professional and college sports are allowed without any fans present, the scene will change at so many levels.
An article in The Examiner last Friday written by Tim Sullivan, “Athletics reformers see silver lining in pandemic” brought up some valid points about the change in the financial landscape, particularly at the college level. The NCAA is already in a world of hurt due to the cancellation of the March Madness men’s basketball tournament. If the NCAA decides to cancel the fall football season, college athletics will be affected for the next five to 10 years.
NCAA universities and colleges rely on their basketball and football programs to financially carry their total athletic departments. It is the straw that stirs the drink and keeps them afloat. The top five NCAA schools that make the most money in these sports are Texas A&M ($192.6 million), Texas ($183.5 million), Ohio State ($167.2 million), Michigan ($152.5 million), and Alabama ($145.9 million).
Even the top five revenue raising sports programs in Division I would take a 40% cut in revenue with a revision in venue of play. There is no doubt a lot of fat in college sport budgets, as was pointed out in Sullivan’s article, but the non-revenue sports would likely be cut – i.e. softball, swimming baseball and wrestling, etc.
Many sports now offered could be eliminated or turned into club sports with a much different level of competition.
It would be a very unfortunate situation. These schools have all functioned at a financially high level with highly compensated coaches and million-dollar facilities that require a tremendous overhead. Many will say they do not need all of that, but the minor sports programs would suffer the most.
I am a proud alumni of Northwest Missouri State University, which has one of the best athletic programs in football and men’s basketball in the country, but if fans cannot attend games, they will be hurt even more than the big Division I schools. They do not have a television contract to help offset the loss of gate receipts. It would crush every small college athletic program in the country.
These coaches are not getting millions of dollars and there is no real fat to cut from the budget. The party will be over for small college budgets.
The scientists will eventually come up with treatments and a vaccine, but it does not look likely for another 12 to 18 months. The prospect will lead to colleges and universities across the country faced with awfully difficult decisions in the near future.
Professional sports will have more resources to continue with the new normal, but the college sports landscape currently looks exceedingly difficult. The decisions made in the next three or four months will affect college sports for at least a decade.
Many Americans are college sports fans. Participants in college sports are future leaders. I hope we can learn from the sacrifices made during the pandemic but need to continue to support the importance of college sports.
• The quote of the week comes from American inventor and scientist Alexander Graham Bell: “When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which opened for us.”
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.