Colleges all over the country have both eyes on what is about to happen with the next academic year. Fall 2020 is the semester where things can go back to normal or simply get worse. A large number of schools will be walking on the tightrope in matters of financial survival if the education system does not come back to normal. No school is safe from this uncertainty. Large public universities in the Power Five conferences are also in the eye of the hurricane, especially regarding the field of college athletics. Having canceled the rest of winter and spring athletic seasons, the NCAA is now addressing the possible scenario of having a full college year in a blank, as calling off fall sports would depict. No March Madness meant no college basketball national championship, no fall season means no football, and neither of them will mean multimillion-dollar losses to the industry of college sports. All income in fields such as TV rights, sponsorships, tickets, and merchandise will potentially reduce to zero, and no organization is ready for this to happen.
It is crazy to think about all the dimensions of society that are going to be damaged in some way or another. It is like an endless domino effect, and the pieces are everything we see and understand as part of our society.
Numerous experts are trying to summarize what the short and long-term effects are going to be for the higher education system here in the United States. Wesley Whistle makes greats point in one of his articles for Forbes addressing the college football downfall in case of cancellation. He provides a whole new perspective on its effect on enrollment for big colleges, in which the freshman class is usually the largest among all colleges. He states that “when a team performs better than expected or wins competitions…, a school often sees an increase in applications and enrollment,” which means that college recruiting of non-student-athletes is directly impacted by athletic performances, which will potentially be missing. Fall athletes might also “choose another college, like a community college, or defer enrollment,” as they acknowledge their incapability of playing and might reconsider the option of attending college. These two perspectives are two incredible realities that might seem insignificant, but they still are domino pieces.
Small private universities, like in the case of Greenville University, might not be impacted in such dimensions mentioned previously. Budget is limited and reduced, and no loss is hypothetically faced in fields like TV broadcasting rights and merchandise. However, this kind of institution is sensitive regarding enrollment, and most NCAA Division III schools share the common denominator of a high percentage of athletes among the overall attendance, which in the case of GU represents more than 70%. No athletic season means fewer recruits, and fewer recruits represent a decline of freshmen enrollment.
Different athletic programs on campus have experienced how vital fundraising projects were canceled because of the state of emergency. This is the case of the soccer program, both men’s and women’s, who coach Bond County children during the second half of the spring semester. Recruiting has also become a significant challenge, as “uncertainty is increasing among high-school seniors and college transfer students,” as B.J. Fink, GU E-sports head coach, mentioned.
It is, without any doubt, a period of hardship. Institutions and the regulatory body of the NCAA are looking for ways of tackling the issue the best way possible. Reducing the impact and ensuring the viability of the current system and schedule are now the top priorities—all eyes on them.