In early August, CBS News reported that colleges could lose around $1 billion from having to suspend their fall sports seasons due to COVID-19.
Schools in the Mid-American Conference are a part of that loss. The decision by MAC officials to cancel fall sports with plans to move the season to spring creates a financial burden for BGSU.
“When we start to talk about cancelling football in the fall, we’re talking about $450,000 to $600,000 worth of ticket sales revenue that we just cannot get back,” Senior Associate Athletic Director for Internal Affairs Jim Elsasser said.
In 2019, BGSU made over half its ticket revenue for all sports from football alone.
“It really puts you on the defensive mode,” Elsasser said. “So now we have to come up with ways to reduce spending and make up for whatever is lost revenue. That is really the battle.”
With the season being cancelled, BGSU has been able to save money in their budget that is no longer needed to use for fall sports.
“With no fall travel, teams that have built their budget for traveling would obviously save the money that they were going to spend,” Elsasser said. “The NCAA has also extended the period of recruiting, which helps save money for some of these teams that travel around and recruit heavily during the fall, because now they can’t even leave campus.”
The Big Ten Conference also cancelled its fall season three days after the MAC did, with the same idea to play their season out during the spring.
This decision allowed the MAC and Big Ten to still play their non-conference games against each other. Overall, the MAC would make $10 million for these games, with $2.2 million of that going to BGSU for playing in games against Ohio State and the University of Illinois, according to the Toledo Blade.
But on Sept. 16, the Big Ten agreed to resume their fall season in October playing an in-conference only schedule. This means Big Ten teams will only play other teams within that conference for the season.
This now creates more of a financial burden for the MAC because the schools can no longer receive the money from non-conference games.
“I have been in contact with my peers and colleagues at other institutions that are in the MAC, and we are all in the same situation,” Elsasser said. “We are all trying to figure out how we are going to survive while not having fall sports, and what we can be doing to try and mitigate our losses.”
BGSU acquired $2.2 million from the Big Ten games in their 2019 budget.
“Obviously financially that’s a big deal for our whole athletic department, not just our football team. You wish it wasn’t such a huge hit, but it honestly is,” BGSU Safeties Coach and Special Teams Coordinator Jacob Schoonover said.
Seven conferences out of the 10 which make up the Football Bowl Subdivision have decided to play this fall.
The Commissioner and the Council of Presidents of the MAC met last Saturday to discuss potentially moving the season back to the fall.
Several ideas for “return-to-play models” for football were presented at the meeting; however, no decision was made. The MAC commissioner was contacted, but due to a “hectic schedule” could not comment at the time.
“With the Big Ten jumping back in, right now we’re kind of holding our breath, looking around and just trying to see what all is going on. Hoping that we find out what all of this means for us,” Schoonover said. “We are telling our guys ‘look, we are going to prepare this next week to get ready to either have some games and play some ball. Or get prepared to have the best season of spring ball we can possibly have.’”
As of Sept. 25, the MAC announced its plans to start the football season playing a six-game schedule starting Nov. 4, but dates and times for each game have yet to be announced.