Colleges across the country would reportedly see significant financial losses if the 2020 football season has to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Paula Lavigne, schools would lose a combined $4 billion if no games are played this season.
COVID-19 has already had a significant impact on college sports, starting in March when the NCAA canceled all remaining winter and spring championship events.
Akron announced May 14 it was cutting men’s cross-country, men’s golf and women’s tennis programs as part of a plan to reduce the athletic budget by $4.4 million.
A number of Division I programs have already cut athletic programs in cost-saving moves because of the pandemic.
TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati told Schlabach and Lavigne that a canceled season or reduced schedule could potentially lead to “massive cutbacks.”
It remains to be seen if the 2020 college football season will take place, though Dr. Patrick Rishe, director of the sports business program at Washington University in St. Louis, told Schlabach and Lavigne he anticipates it will be played even if it has to be moved to the spring because of the “astronomical financial implications” of canceling football.
Rishe estimated the 65 schools in Power Five conferences would stand to lose a combined total of $1.2 billion in ticket revenue.
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told reporters Wednesday the school has put together a “social distancing concept” that would bring in between 20,000 and 22,000 fans for home games. It’s unclear if government officials and health experts will permit that by the time the season begins in September.
Opening weekend for the 2020 season is scheduled to be Aug. 29 with seven games, followed by a full slate the week after.
Bleacher Report’s David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.