Going to be hard for many of them to be able to fund their athletic departments without those money games against the big schools. Probably going to be a lot of sports being cut as this reality now officially is hitting them.
A lot of them are going to have to do the math and decide whether to suspend play for a year or maybe come back in the spring when they might have a few fans and some better TV exposure. I would not be surprised if one or two of the marginal FBS teams drop football, but most of these schools will probably find a way to keep football alive-for now.
Typically if a school drops a sport the people already on scholarship stay on scholarship and the coaches get their contracts paid out per the contract, so any school that drops football is probably going to have some “winding up” expenses for several more years.
Since the ACC is the only Power 5 conference with any nonconference games, I’m guessing the G5 will be begging to come play in Clemson or Durham or Tallahassee. But that’s only 15 games for a whole lot of G5 schools.
The Mountain West and CUSA can probably weather this year, and there are two basically “national”
schools that are going to figure something out as independents: Army and BYU.
I’d also bet the ACC schools, also taking an attendance & revenue hit, wouldn’t pay huge dollars for one of the 60 or so G5 schools wanting a game.
I agree. But a $300,000 rent a win check (paid out of ACC Network funds) is better than nothing for those Sun Belters and MACers.
A lot of these smaller schools lose money on their football programs even with money games. The question is whether the revenue they lose is off-set by the expenses they no longer incur. I’d say probably not. Unless they refuse to honor salaries (even if reduced) and scholarships, they’ll still have major expenses. One source of revenue they’re likely to lose is the “athletic fee” they charge students. Can they charge those to students who only attend school by video? Can they charge as much if there are only 3 home football games? Can they charge one if the season is cancelled? I’d say no.
I expect a bunch of them will cut sports, but they’ll be the minor sports. I could see ASU, for instance, cutting baseball. They’d shut down the school before they cut out football.
I think a more likely problem for the ACC is going to be what to do about all the non-conference games with teams outside the Power Five that are already scheduled. Most of the teams have more than one of those games still on the schedule, and the ACC has already said no one is playing more than one NC game.
So there won’t be many slots open, and the ACC teams with two games scheduled are in the same boat as the three Power Five conferences which are playing conference only-can you avoid litigation with or writing big checks to the jilted schools which will lose out on playing financially vital games?
Take ASU for example. Michigan apparently did not even bother to call before the Big Ten announced conference only-which of course deprived ASU of a big payday. Does Michigan buy them off in some manner, rely on some contract language to claim they owe nothing, or just ignore ASU and hope for the best? Does ASU just accept whatever Michigan does, or do they fight for more?
The football have-nots still are likely to have access to pretty good lawyers, and there are going to be some pretty desperate ADs out there among the have nots. It could get pretty messy.
Litigation between the P5 & the rent-a-wins could be interesting. I doubt the contracts are without a clause that allows them an out. If there is one that can be read to allow cancellation, I expect courts to be pretty sympathetic to schools who are cutting back on their schedules for the purpose of trying to contain the virus. Everyone in the country knows what’s going on. It’s not like the canceling school is making money off the cancelled game. Michigan will lose a bunch of ticket revenue for cancelling that game, too. It’s dollar loss is greater than ASU’s. I’d hate to think we’re gonna have to pay Nevada & ULM the contract fee for the games we now won’t play. Losing the ticket revenue will be hard enough. Likewise, schools like ASU play D2 schools to come in. More likely than not those games will get cancelled & they won’t want to pay out for that.
Aside from the legalities, I think there could be a problem for any small school that brings a lawsuit. It might have a very hard time getting a game in the future from a P5 school.
Of course, there might be some sort of payment to them to avoid litigation, but probably only a fraction of the contract amount.
I think you have a point for schools that have enough financial stability to gut this out. Fighting it out in court, even if you win, is going to irk some people in higher places with long memories.
The really vulnerable programs, which may not be able to easily make up the difference from other sources, may be less likely to play along. Half a million bucks may be worth making some future enemies versus gutting programs.
On the other hand, maybe this will end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and the Power Five will decide they can make their money without propping up the wannabes, and make their own rules about how they do it.