At least one NCAA Division I athletic director has suggested the possibility of one-time government relief for athletic departments hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus has altered business and revenue streams across the United States, with the government set to pay relief funds to a number of industries and individuals. In the college sports world, the shutdown has meant empty gyms and fields, and the loss of revenue for athletic departments across the country.
University of Central Florida athletic director Danny White told the Orlando Sentinel this week that departments would benefit from government relief next year.
“As we look into next year, I think there are going to be a lot of scenarios where there are one-time challenges,” White said. “We’ve just got to find a way and hopefully, there’s ways with federal and state support, one-time relief to help us get through the next 12 months or so.”
The ramifications are still unfolding from the NCAAs move to cancel winter championships and spring seasons. The loss of the 2020 spring seasons means increased expenditures in 2021 and beyond, as the NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to allow schools to provide spring student-athletes with an extra year of eligibility.
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Extra years of eligibility means more scholarships and other benefits, which White estimates will cost Central Florida between $300,000 and $500,000 in 2020-21.
Those prices could be difficult to navigate after the loss of revenue from a canceled 2020 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. NCAA Division I Revenue Distributions for 2020 are $375 million less than the estimated number of $600 million. White said that UCF’s NCAA distribution is about $1.3-$1.5 million less than it normally is. That number could also be down next year if the coronavirus delays or cancels college football.
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White is fine with navigating those funding issues if it means student-athletes can finish out their careers.
“I applaud the NCAA,” said White, who also said he’ll advocate for additional eligibility for winter athletes who didn’t have the opportunity to compete in postseason events. “We should be about the student-athletes first and we say that and in times like this, we have to back that up. If that means financially, it’s harder, and logistically, it’s harder, so be it. Those kids work way too hard to come for a high level Division I experience. It’s nobody’s fault that it got taken away. We have to make good on that.”