No college football in 2020 would come at the cost of $4 billion and the elimination of other non-revenue sports across the NCAA, according to a report from ESPN.
Already facing massive reductions in revenue from the abrupt end of the college basketball season, including the absence of postseason tournaments in men's and women's basketball, schools are attempting to address the potential for an even bigger hit this fall if the coronavirus pandemic forces college football off the field.
ESPN reported Thursday, May 21, the loss could exceed $4 billion -- approximately $1.2 billion of it in ticket-related revenue -- and the ripple effects would last decades.
"If there's no football season, or if football season is interrupted or shortened, there will be a massive fallout," TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati told ESPN. "There would have to be massive cutbacks. Could the department go on? Sure. It would probably look smaller. There would potentially be fewer sports and much less programming."
ESPN cited a study undertaken by Washington University's Dr. Patrick Rishe, who used public data and records to assemble the financial fallout that would follow the cancellation of the entire 2020 college football season.
"Each Power 5 school would see at least an average loss of $62 million in football revenue, including at least $18.6 million in football ticket sales," ESPN cited Rishe as saying.
Rishe said he believes the upcoming college football season will be played in the spring.
"Anywhere from 75 up to almost 85% of all revenues to our departments are derived directly or indirectly from football," Oregon State athletics director Scott Barnes said. "Indirectly, I mean sponsorship dollars, multimedia rights, and then you've got your gate, your donations and whatnot. The impact of not playing a season is devastating. It would rock the foundation of intercollegiate athletics the way we know it. Frankly, I'm not trying to solve for that because it would be such a devastating circumstance that we'd almost have to get a whiteboard out and start over."