I couldn’t agree more with Andy Staples ($$) on whether there’s going to be some sort of 2020 college football season when he writes,
… a school year without a football season would wreak all manner of havoc. Departments have spent decades trying to spend every penny they make (so they don’t have to give more to the players or any to Uncle Sam), and most aren’t equipped to handle a year with no football season ticket revenue, no football booster donations and no football TV money.
Employees would get furloughed — or outright laid off — and sports would get cut. Some of those non-revenue sports wouldn’t come back. Football would come back, but not without considerable damage to each athletic department and a constriction in the number of available jobs.
Because of this, the people who run college sports will do everything within their power to get this season played. If it means moving the season to start in October, November, December or January, they’ll do it. If it isn’t safe at any point between now and next April to have huge crowds gather, they’ll play in front of no fans to get the TV money. That still would require massive budget cuts, but it probably would at least keep Power 5 programs afloat. They would have to find a way to play a season between September and the end of April 2021. The economic model they’ve created simply cannot function without a football season.
It’s the world they’ve made and they don’t know another way.
Which is why we’re bound to see all sorts of suggestions to reboot the season, including plenty that would never see the light of day, or at least polite conversation, if we were still in normal times.
Here’s a sampler:
- From the Congressman who represents Knoxville: “I’ve actually got some legislation prepared dealing with encouraging folks to continue supporting their athletes through some tax breaks that they used to get but have done away with in years past,” Burchett said. “Maybe there could be a one-year reprieve on that to encourage people to get back involved in their college sports. During World War II, our leaders realized that we love our sports and love our sports figures.
- A new survey of major-college athletic directors “… showed that nearly 90% of the respondents said that academic progress is one of their top three concerns for their athletes over the next three months, an outcome that shows possible sentiment for a temporary change in the NCAA’s academic-progress regulations as campus closures have moved all students into distance learning.”
- And my favorite— while students would not be allowed to return to campus…
In this scenario, the student-athletes — only if cleared by health and safety officials — would be allowed on campus to take online classes and, yes, compete in athletics. They could be tested daily to guarantee they don’t have the virus (if we’re still at that point) and would play their games in empty stadiums.
“We’ve actually had discussions about this possibility,” a Power Five AD said.
It’s a war, doncha know?
On the broader financial picture, McMillen said: “Folks are torn between the mission of college sports — providing as many broad-based opportunities to participate as possible — and the business side, relative to making budgets balance. Some of them are saying, ‘Sixteen sports — can’t we have a break on that for a while?’ Everything is dependent on football.”
There are always casualties in a war.