Financial fallout if Coronavirus cancels college football

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 8:53 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As reports of coronavirus rising with lockdown measures being eased, major sports leagues and their restarting has been called into question. In our Money Matters segment this week, we talked with financial planning advisor Josh Smith of Strategic Wealth Designers to look at the financial fallout of what a lost season could entail. Smith said he believes some version of the season will be played but there likely is going to be a financial loss no matter what happens.

“College football results in up to $4 billion in revenue a year as recently noted by Sports Illustrated and if you lose that, you don’t just lose football you lose the majority of sports within an athletic program at most universities,” Smith said. “There’s no question in my mind the season is going to look different than anything we’ve seen in our lifetimes from a fan perspective but just how many fans or if they allow fans at games at all is hard to tell at this point.”

The New York Times recently quoted NCAA President Mark Emmert as saying it’s very possible the college football season could expect a shortened season to end before Thanksgiving. Big Ten school Purdue University has already stated they will finish classes this fall before Thanksgiving break. Smith says player safety will outweigh money, even if it does cause a severe contraction in athletic programs. “Just like we saw in the spring with the NCAA Basketball Tournament being canceled, no one on March 1st would have ever guessed March Madness wouldn’t be played but it happened and even though the financial ramifications were steep, player safety ultimately was the cause of the cancellation and if it had to be, they’d either cancel or try to possibly push the season to the spring,” Smith says.

For Kentucky fans, the loss would be devastating both for the throngs of sports fans throughout the area but also the furloughs or job losses that would come from the lack of sports being played. Smith remains optimistic the games are played, “I think some version of the season happens, you may see players pulled out for 2 weeks if they test positive but I’m hopeful some version of the season is played, maybe 50% capacity of fans, maybe no fans, a bunch of smart people are working on this, they probably find a safe way to make it work. From a revenue standpoint, it’s hard to envision packed out stadiums and that will certainly result in lose revenue, but hopefully, some portion of the venues can be filled each week.”

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