NCAA, Member Schools to Suffer Massive Losses from Coronavirus Shutdown

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in April 2020.

On March 12, the NCAA canceled all winter and spring athletics championships, followed shortly thereafter by collegiate conferences shutting down all play for the rest of the season. This meant a cancellation of March Madness and the remainder of spring seasons.

Twenty days later, we have a greater sense of just how costly this will be for the NCAA and its member schools, one of which is Fordham.

Last Thursday, the organization announced that it could cut its payouts to member schools by more than half, from $600 million to $225 million, later this year. The move was largely spurred by the cancellation of the Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, which raked in nearly $1 billion last year in revenue from advertising and its broadcasting partners, CBS and Turner. 

When reached for comment, Fordham Athletic Director Dave Roach confirmed that this would affect Fordham, which is one of 353 NCAA Division I institutions. “Once we see the exact numbers, we will adjust accordingly to not hinder the student-athlete experience,” Roach said.

Hopefully, for the schools and players, this experience will not be affected. The next major mile marker for the NCAA’s revenue loss will be the start of football season in the fall, which is uncertain but could be in peril as the nation’s public health crisis deteriorates by the day. According to legal analyst Andy Schwarz, a partner with California law firm OSKR, college football alone generated $51 million last season for each NCAA FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) school; this does not include Fordham. If the football season is impacted or lost altogether, the financial losses for many of the nation’s top athletic programs would be devastating.

As of now, the NCAA is attempting to mitigate this with short-term cuts. How exactly it will affect schools like Fordham will remain to be seen, but likely won’t be fully realized until the coronavirus pandemic dies down.

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