Since the spring college season was canceled because of the virus, programs across the country have been hard at work trying to figure out the financial damage that was caused by it. If you are a Power-5 Conference member, you have little to worry about. That is because of the television contracts these conferences have in their back pockets. For those not in the group of five conferences, a different story is starting to be told.
It is being reported by different outlets that as many as 97 teams have already been cut by schools across the NCAA landscape. For the most part, these cuts are taking place at the Division II and III levels. There are teams at the NAIA level that are feeling the pinch as well. The reason for this is easy to understand. No T.V. deals to fall back on and attendance at their events on campus, do not draw enough to make up for the lack of exposure that television could bring them. Not to mention, t-shirts sales and other school swag can’t make up for it either. And with none or very few scholarships available, it is rough for schools to make up for what they are losing, The most important thing to remember is a lot of these sports are non-revenue which in times like the one we are going through right now does not help the cause.
Back to Division 1 where nineteen programs have been cut to this point. On the men’s side, the number is at fifteen, on the women’s side, the number is four. Most of the cuts come from teams that do not produce much in the way of money or attention. However, there is another problem factoring into this that maybe no one saw coming is a lack of enrollment. Some schools are feeling the effects of students deciding not to enroll just yet. And for schools that need money from a variety of different sources to make this all work, student fees become as important as anything else.
Some of the programs that are being eliminated are men’s cross country, golf, and tennis. Yes, there have been baseball programs that have been dropped. And last week, a men’s hockey program became a casualty as Alabama-Huntsville announced they were doing away with the team that has been a part of that school since 1985-86. It is very easy to point fingers at people whose job it is to crunch numbers and make sure they worked. But even the best number crunchers in the country could not have seen this coming.
How the NCAA handles this also becomes very important. Not all athletes are football or basketball players. Some are swimmers, track & field, soccer players, and wrestlers. What becomes of these sports is now in the hands of not only the athletic departments but college presidents too. How they scramble to find the means to keep them alive is too important to mess it up. By the time all is said and done, one hundred teams could find themselves not playing college sports at all. That is something that the NCAA can not afford.