By now, you may have heard that a few HBCUs and the Ivy League schools have canceled their fall sports programs due to COVID 19. It's a smart move given their desire to slow the spread of the virus and doing as much as they can to protect their athletes, coaches, athletic staff and "regular" students. These schools are choosing "not to risk it" and by making this announcement now, in mid-July, are giving all parties involved more time to make a bunch of necessary decisions about education, health and life.
And of course, money.
Some Division 3 NESCAC (New England Small Colleges Athletic Conference) schools have also already canceled and more will come in the coming weeks. Those that have not are stalling because they are reluctant to send the shockwaves through their students and alumni. Sports, especially fall sports like football, are a big deal, and when and if they do not happen, students, faculty and alumni may consider how they engage with the college going forward.
At many schools, sports are part of the college "experience." The "ra ra" element is huge and should not be taken lightly. I can imagine some students NOT wanting to be on campus in the fall without football being there. Yes, while we tell ourselves that education is the reason why young people are in college, if the education is virtual, what's the point of living in a dorm or away from home? Additionally, many schools are able to pay their faculty handsomely because of the revenue that comes in from their athletic programs. If faculty experience a severe pay crunch or are not afforded the resources they've come accustomed to for various research or writing projects, how or why will they want to stay?
And the alumni LOVE taking in pride in their college's athletic success. When is homecoming? In the fall. Is there always a "homecoming game?" Yes. So, without alumni support, fundraising will slow down and in this climate, only a handful of schools will be able to sustain themselves without going into their cash reserves or, even worse, debt.
Let's all pay attention to how this plays out over the next month. Money and college athletics are inextricably tied together and each and every person who is on a college campus might be impacted.
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