Survey: College ADs Bracing for Financial Crisis | Athletic Business

Survey: College ADs Bracing for Financial Crisis

A survey released Thursday titled "The State of Athletics in the Face of the Coronavirus" identifies the top concerns for America's wealthiest athletic departments as the country at large absorbs the potential fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

As reported by The Associated Press, LEAD1, an association of athletic directors from 130 major college football schools, and Teamworks, a company that created an app designed to help keep teams and athletic departments connected, conducted the survey of more than 100 athletic directors from FBS schools. 

Canceling the Division I men's basketball tournament cost the NCAA $375 million it was scheduled to distribute to its member schools. Now, administrators are at least beginning to contemplate a football season in jeopardy.

According to the survey, 63 percent of athletic directors forecast a worst-case scenario in which their revenues decrease by at least 20 percent during the 2020-21 school year. Even an abbreviated football season could cause schools to lose that much. According to Matt Balvanz, senior vice president for analytics for Navigate, a sports marketing consulting firm, the average Power 5 home football game is worth $14 million, including its value from a television rights deals, which is more than 10 percent of a school's average total revenue. "Larger departments can likely absorb a 10 percent loss, but if that increases to 20 percent and 30 percent with more games lost, then that could be a major issue," he said.

Athletic directors surveyed by LEAD1 were asked what revenue streams they were most concerned about. Donations and ticket sales received the most votes. Balvanz told the AP that a typical Power 5 school brings in around $20 million to $30 million per year in donations, which could also take a hit in a struggling economy.

In the LEAD1 survey, 40 percent of the 95 ADs who responded said they approve or strongly approve when asked if they believe high-earners should voluntarily offer to make a personal financial sacrifice during the crisis. About 15 percent disapproved or strongly disapproved.

Schools in Group of Five conferences, which don't receive hundreds of millions annually from their television deals, would be more vulnerable. Fifty percent of Group of 5 athletic directors in the LEAD1 survey said lost revenue from student fees was among their biggest concerns. Student fees and campus subsidies make up, on average, 30 percent to 50 percent of revenue from Group of Five schools, Balvanz said.

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