Some sports are starting to get going again. The PGA held a tournament last weekend — but with no spectators. Can big-time college sports, which have always depended on packed arenas and stadiums, recover from the COVID-19 shutdown?
Ohio University professor David Ridpath, a longtime critic of the excesses of college athletics, offers his views on that topic in today’s Martin Center article.
After noting that even in good times, most sports program lost money and with falling enrollments due to COVID-19, there will be still less money available, Ridpath writes, “Athletic departments cannot be treated as a sacred cow anymore and must share in this economic burden.”
He cautions against taking an ax to all non-revenue sports, since that’s apt to create a backlash among some alums. “It is a much better strategy,” Ridpath writes, “to reduce the funding of a sports program than to announce its demise before taking other needed financial steps. While no schools have announced moves like this, there has been discussion for greater regional competition versus widespread national competition to reduce costs.”
The major area for cost reductions must be the huge salaries for coaches and the whole retinue of sports personnel.
Few college leaders have ever shown much willingness to face down the expensive sports establishment at their schools, but maybe more of them will now do so.