The impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic and its affects on sports are revealed daily as events continue to be postponed or canceled.
For example, the Indianapolis 500 — a Memorial Day weekend staple since 1946 — has been moved to Aug. 23. Locally, the Ogden Marathon has been pushed to Sept. 26.
Thursday brought one of the first tangible repercussions that illustrates the monetary impact of the pandemic on sports.
The NCAA announced its payout to Division I schools, expected to be around $600 million in total this year, will instead be $225 million.
Most of the NCAA’s yearly revenue comes from TV and marketing rights for the men’s basketball tournament, as well as ticket sales. That event is not happening this season; it was canceled March 19.
The NCAA’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to distribute the smaller sum in June and, in a statement from the NCAA on Thursday, has stressed to schools the importance of using the money to help athletes “during the uncertainty of the current environment.”
“We are living in unprecedented times not only for higher education, but for the entire nation and around the globe as we face the COVID-19 public health crisis,” said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of Ohio State University, in the NCAA’s statement. “As an Association, we must acknowledge the uncertainties of our financial situation and continue to make thoughtful and prudent decisions on how we can assist conferences and campuses in supporting student-athletes now and into the future.”
Drake also said, “The Association has prepared for a financial catastrophic event like the one we face now. While we certainly have challenges ahead, we would be in a far worse position had it not been for this long-standing, forward-focused planning.”
The Associated Press reports the Big 12, one of the power conferences, will distribute around $17-20 million to its member schools instead of its expected $35 million.
The Atlantic Sun, a smaller conference, was expecting $5.8 million and “we’re going to get less than half of that,” its conference commissioner Ted Gumbart told the AP. “It simply limits what we can provide to our schools. It’s going to be a tough recovery year.”
In lower divisions, Division II was projected to receive $13.9 million, $30 million less than last year, while Division III was expected to receive $10.7 million, $22 million less than last year, the Associated Press reports.
ELIGIBILITY VOTE NEARS
The coronavirus pandemic initially canceled both men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments and all other winter sports championships. But in the weeks since the April 11 flashpoint when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive and the NBA suspended its season, the NCAA and all 32 conferences have canceled all spring sports competition.
One of the largest impacts in these series of events, sports-wise, is taken by the athletes.
The NCAA’s full Division I Council will discuss and vote Monday on eligibility relief for athletes “whose seasons were impacted by COVID-19 and other related issues,” the NCAA said in a March 20 release.
Such a vote could restore a season of eligibility to athletes, likely for those in spring sports, most of which were somewhere around half-way through regular seasons. For Weber State softball, for example, it had yet to even begin conference play.
At Weber State, a positive vote that restores eligibility to spring sports athletes would affect golf, softball, tennis, and outdoor track and field.
The NCAA’s coordination committee has already voiced that eligibility relief should be extended to spring athletes. That committee recommended the NCAA provide a framework where schools have the autonomy to decide if and how such additional eligibility is implemented, based on their interests.
Part of that framework would hopefully address one-time changes to scholarship limits, which would speak to the dilemma of if teams welcome back a handful of seniors for the 2021 spring season, what happens to scholarship offers to incoming freshmen?
“Providing a broader regulatory relief framework will allow campuses and conferences to make decisions they believe are in their collective best interest,” an email to Division I members said March 20.