Apr 1, 2020 - Sports

Coronavirus canceling football would break college sports

Data: Public records request; Chart: Axios Visuals

What was once unthinkable, even as recently as two weeks ago, is now being discussed openly throughout college sports: coronavirus could force the cancellation of the 2020 college football season.

Why it matters: 80% of FBS athletic budgets are made up of football revenue. So if the season was canceled — or even shortened — the economic fallout would be exponentially worse than what we saw with March Madness.

  • By the numbers: Take LSU, for example. During the 2016-17 cycle, football generated $56 million in profit for the school, while all other sports accounted for $23 million in losses, according to a public records request filed by SI's Ross Dellenger during his time as a beat writer.

What they're saying:

  • ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit: "I'll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I'll be so surprised if that happens."
  • Texas coach Tom Herman: "I couldn't [imagine a fall without football] two weeks ago. I can now."
  • Athletic directors: Nearly one-fifth of FBS ADs "believe there is at least a 50% chance" of a shortened season, according to a survey conducted by Stadium.
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