It was a widely-held belief that, as the coronavirus pandemic quickly enveloped this country, the Group of Five conferences were the most vulnerable in the FBS to financial hardships. Tuesday, a couple of events brought those economic struggles to light.
In the morning, Cincinnati announced that it has discontinued its men’s soccer program, effective immediately. The American Athletic Conference school had sponsored the sport for nearly a half-century. In fairness, UC had been considering cutting the sport prior to the pandemic.
Then, this afternoon, Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports reported that the commissioners of the Group of Five conferences — the AAC, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt — sent a letter to president Mark Emmert seeking relief from the NCAA.
NEW: @YahooSports obtained a letter from Group of 5 Commissioners to NCAA President Mark Emmert asking for “temporary relief from several regulatory (NCAA) requirements for a period of up to 4 years.” Among them are sports sponsorships minimums, which hints at more sports cuts.
The “regulatory requirements” that Group of 5 Commissioners are looking from relief from include: Sports Sponsorships, Football Attendance requirements, Football Scheduling requirements, Additional Financial Aid Requirements and minimum contests that sports must play.
Additional details surrounding the specifics of the letter, especially as it pertains to football and scheduling requirements, have yet to be released.
Back in late March, following the cancellation of the men’s basketball tournament, the NCAA announced that it was adjusting its annual revenue distribution to all Div. 1 schools to a total of $225 million. It had been projected that the NCAA would distribute $600 million.
The Power Five conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — are better equipped financially to handle such a hit compared to their Group of Five counterparts. And certainly, Cincinnati is not the last school from those conferences to lop off a sport or two. Or more.
If the 2020 college football season is canceled? That’s a financial Armageddon that not even the Power Five leagues want to consider.