Jul 9, 2020 - Sports

College sports stare down a coronavirus-driven disaster in the fall

An illustration of a hand erasing a chalk board.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Wednesday was the worst day in college sports since March 12, when the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

Driving the news: The Ivy League announced that it will cancel all fall sports and will not consider resuming sports until Jan. 1, 2021 — and Stanford is permanently cutting 11 of its 36 varsity sports to help offset a projected $70 million, pandemic-fueled deficit.

  • The Ivy League was the first to cancel spring sports, calling off its basketball tournaments on March 10. Now, it's the first D-I conference to cancel football.
  • The 11 programs ended at Stanford: men's and women's fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men's rowing, co-ed and women's sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men's volleyball and wrestling.

The big picture: While Power 5 conferences could ultimately follow the Ivy League's lead, multiple sources tell Axios that no decisions will be made until late July.

  • It's also worth noting that Power 5 schools and Ivy League schools are dealing with different numbers. The former generates significant football revenue through TV contracts and ticket sales, while the Ivy League does not.
  • The Ivy League generated roughly $30 million in football revenue in 2019, while the Big Ten generated $1 billion, per The Athletic's Scott Dochterman.

The bottom line: If the Ivy League sets the trend once again, we could be headed for a football-less fall, which would have terrible financial repercussions.

  • And if Stanford — the gold standard of Olympic sports for decades — is eliminating 11 programs, what might happen at other schools?
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