AMES, IA (WSAU-WRN) — NCAA schools lost one of their cash cows this spring, and now many are beginning to plan what will happen if their second is also impacted.
After the cancellation of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments in March, many college fans were left to look forward to football season to get the next dose of their favorite teams in action. But, as another week begins with stadiums and arenas across the country sitting idle, questions about the fall sports season are beginning to rise.
“There is nobody in our industry right now that could reasonably forecast a contingency plan for how they would get through not playing any football games,” said Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard, who previously served as Associate AD at Wisconsin.
Pollard says several plans for the football season have been floated, everything from starting on time Labor Day weekend with full stadiums to closed-door games, and even an eight or nine-game abbreviated season with only conference games leading up to Bowl Season and the FCS Playoffs.
“There are vast modeling ways, and there will be smarter people than me trying to figure that out. Three weeks from now, a month from now, a lot could transpire about how the fall may look,” he adds.
The 2020 College Football season is currently slated to kick off on Saturday, August 29th with seven games featuring Notre Dame vs Navy in Dublin, Ireland. The first regular-season game in Las Vegas’ Alligent Stadium is also on the docket with Cal taking on the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Wisconsin opens the season Friday, September 5th with a Big Ten game against Indiana. Their early-season slate also includes a lucrative non-conference game with Notre Dame at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field in October.
The basketball tournaments and the billion-dollar TV contract and millions in ticket sales that go with it help fund many of the NCAA’s 80+ championship sports across all three divisions. While for many schools, football remains the single-largest revenue-generating sport on campus.
Fifteen years ago the NCAA took out an insurance policy to protect themselves if the tournaments would be called off for any reason. The value of that policy along with cash the NCAA has in reserve is expected to be distributed to schools, but it likely won’t match the value they would have received if the tournament would have been played this year.
Also canceled this year are the NCAA Division I Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City and the Division I College World Series in Omaha, two events that have become secondary revenue-generators thanks to ESPN’s coverage of both the tournaments themselves and the early-round action leading up to them.
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