College Football Minnows to Lose Millions From Covid-Cut Games

When the Big 10 and Pac-12 scrapped non-conference football games over Covid-19 concerns, the move had a ripple effect on smaller schools missing out on revenue.

Teams outside of the major conferences can help build their budgets from the guaranteed payments they get for agreeing to play the powerhouses. Bowling Green State University in Western Ohio will lose out on $2.2 million -- equal to 10% of its athletic budget -- by not traveling to the University of Illinois and Ohio State University for games during the upcoming season that begins in September.

College Football Minnows to Lose Millions From Covid-Cut Games

“We just went through budget cuts for this upcoming year based on the loss of spring sports and revenue from March Madness,” said Jason Knavel, a spokesman for Bowling Green’s athletic department. “Absolutely it will play a role if the revenue from those games is gone.”

Colleges are in a tough spot when it comes to reopening their campuses and playing contact sports as the number of Covid-19 cases keeps rising. Sports such as football can bring in sizable revenue for schools as well as the surrounding communities while subsidizing athletic programs that don’t make money.

At smaller colleges, sports also can boost recruiting.

“The biggest losers in this case are the smaller schools,” said Samuel Owusu, a research analyst at the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College, which is tracking U.S. colleges’ plans to reopen. “They were banking on these big-time games that they know they weren’t going to win.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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