If this doesn’t explain exactly why the powers-that-be in college football will do anything and everything to avoid canceling the 2020 season, nothing will.
Right below this post, we noted that the Group of Five conferences have reached out to the NCAA to seek regulatory relief as that group looks to mitigate expected losses connected to the coronavirus pandemic. The Power Five schools, on the other hand, are on much more solid financial ground to withstand the economic impact of the virus that, in collegiate athletics, is currently centered on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
But a canceled college football season? That’s another financial animal. Entirely.
According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, Power Five schools stand to lose, on average, $78 million per if the college football season is canceled. On average.
From Berkowitz’s report:
That’s more than 60% of these schools’ combined total annual operating revenues, based on amounts reported for the 2019 fiscal year. These estimates do not take into account potential impacts on student fees or money from schools’ general funds, both of which likely would be reduced if students cannot return to campus as usual for the fall semester. Even within the Power Five, there are schools that receive significant amounts from those sources.
All of this is “why they’re going to try their damnedest to have a season of 12 games, regardless of what months” in which it occurs, said Dan Rascher, a University of San Francisco sport management professor who has been an expert witness on the economics of major-college athletics for plaintiffs in antitrust cases against the NCAA. “The question is whether they will get the same revenues for the games.
Those raw numbers — it should be noted that Berkowitz’s modeling for this report used a conservative approach — show exactly why one anonymous FBS athletic director was quoted earlier that month as stating “we will be f*****” if there is no college football season.
The talk about how to proceed with the upcoming season has been all over the map. From no fans — some aren’t too keen on that idea — to starting the season in October. Or January. Or February. Playing all 12 games, or a truncated season. Having a season that consists of conference games only.
Again. All over the map, especially at such an early point in the process.
The only certainty in all of this? Whether or not there is a college football season will be determined by government officials and health experts. Not college football head coaches.