College Sports Aren’t Just On Hold; Some Teams Are Shut Down Because Of COVID-19.

“For smaller programs, they really don’t have the sponsorships or the TV network deals that would allow them to push through.”

By Michael MarksApril 27, 2020 9:37 am, ,

Many college athletes don’t know when their next season will start. Others are unsure whether they will have a team to play for at all. That’s all due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the fact that some colleges and universities in Texas and elsewhere are considering cutting certain sports because of budget shortfalls. 

St. Edwards University in Austin, for example, announced it will discontinue six varsity sports. And Daron Roberts, founding director of the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation at the University of Texas at Austin, told Texas Standard Monday that these changes are only the beginning for college sports post-pandemic.

“For most programs, midseason basketball and football are, in general, the two sports that float the department and essentially help to fund the rest of the sports,” Roberts said. “I think that a lot of athletic departments across the state and the country are going to be in very similar positions.”

Televised games are an important source of revenue for college athletic departments, and that money also supports the sports that get less attention. Roberts said colleges are trying to find ways for games to be played, possibly in empty stadiums, and still be televised. 

Professional sports leagues are also looking for alternatives to conventional games.

“You’re seeing some very creative options on the table,'” Roberts said. “People have heard about MLB possibly playing games in the desert of Arizona, without any fans, with onsite testing for players.” 

And it’s not just the teams that want to resume games; fans also miss live sports. Roberts said high ratings for a recent ESPN documentary series about basketball star Michael Jordan showed just how much fans are “starving for this content.”

“As we get closer and closer to the fall, especially with football, it is going to be very interesting to see how that pent-up demand impacts what sorts of creative measures we see coming form the professional leagues,” Roberts said.

Web story by Shelly Brisbin.


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