A day after the Ivy League canceled its fall sports season, Power 5 conferences started scaling back theirs. The Big Ten Conference and Pac-12 both announced a conference-only schedule for all fall sports.
The ACC is considering a conference-only fall season and said it would help accommodate Notre Dame. In 2014, the ACC and Notre Dame signed an agreement that sees the Fighting Irish play an average of five ACC schools a year. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said it is becoming less likely the season starts on time.
If Power 5 conferences all reduced their schedules, it would take away several marquee cross-conference games, but the full economic value lost would depend on how many fans are allowed at games – if they’re held at all.
The lack of non-conference games could also be a further death knell for small conference schools. The Group of Five conferences don’t garner the same TV revenue the Power 5 conferences do. Mid-America Conference schools, for example, make $833,000 from the conference’s TV deal. However, those smaller programs often are paid $1 million or more per game to play larger conference schools. The Big Ten was slated to pay at least $22.2 million to non-conference opponents this season, with MAC schools receiving $10.5 million.
The conference-only schedules will allow college football to start a month later, but with coronavirus cases rising, time will tell if that’s enough. A recent survey by Stadium found 7% of athletic directors don’t expect a season to be played in 2020-21, and 31% believe a full or conference-only schedule in the spring is most likely.
As schools and conferences make their decisions in regards to fall competition, the NCAA released its own statement: “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact college sports nationally, the NCAA supports its members as they make important decisions based on their specific circumstances and in the best interest of college athletes’ health and well-being.”
In Other College News:
— Dartmouth announced it is cutting five varsity sports: men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s golf, and rowing. Those cuts, along with closing Hanover Country Club and staff restructuring, is expected to save the college $2 million.
— The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, made up of mostly Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has suspended its fall sports seasons and championship events. The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association also suspended its fall competition.