The financial reality of the pandemic hits hard for smaller athletic programs and, on the heels of the Division II and Division III championships getting scrapped, the Mid-American Conference became the first of the Group of Five leagues to cancel the season. According to Pete Thamel, the Big Ten may follow suit.
The Big Ten presidents are scheduled on Saturday afternoon. The Big Ten’s schedule release earlier this week was filled with warning signs that they weren’t confident about the season being held. Industry speculation is that the Big Ten and Pac-12 are the leagues most strongly considering punting on fall sports.
Wisconsin athletic direction Barry Alvarez told Yahoo Sports on Friday that he’s “very concerned” and “afraid” about the prospect of college football in the fall.
“If one major conference or two say we’re not playing, the others have a hard decision to make,” a conference commissioner told Yahoo Sports.
The MAC will inevitably cite health and safety concerns. But just like UConn’s football to punt on football in 2020, finances will inevitably play as big of a concern as health.
It always seemed impossible for the Group of Five to have a season without a significant gate and a sufficient number of paycheck games, especially with the added cost of constant testing. A few sportswriters have managed to seize the opportunity to further frame the Power Five schools as money hungry sociopaths killing college students for the almighty dollar, but the financial reality is more the opposite. All of the leagues would love to try and have a season. The vast majority of the players want to have a season. Unfortunately, only the Power Five schools have the resources to put on a season in the current climate.
As far as the Big Ten conference call, we’ll wait and see what happens. This is Pete Thamel, after all.