Big Ten Impact Speculation Has Already Kicked Off

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The 2020 Big Ten football season, left for dead only weeks ago, won't begin until Oct. 23, but speculation as to what impact Wednesday's decision to return might have has already begun.

First, as Sportico reports, the move to join other Power 5 conferences that have committed to football this fall should "diffuse efforts to expose emails and other sensitive communications sent by conference executives and university leaders." The University of Nebraska football players and the state's attorney general had been exploring legal avenues in an effort to force the conference to overturn its initial stance of cancellation taken Aug. 11.

Related: Big Ten Votes to Kick Off Football Season in October

For other schools, the immediate reaction is one of relief — at least financially speaking. As reported by the Detroit Free Press, Michigan State University athletic director Bill Beekman stated during a conference call that he believes bringing back Big Ten football will be the difference between a massive budget hole and Michigan State’s athletic department breaking even — a potential financial swing of between $30 million and $40 million.

Beekman on Aug. 13 projected as much as an $80 million loss in revenue from a year ago. Between cost-cutting, and salary-reduction as well as a hiring freeze with most open positions, he said Wednesday the initially projected $140 million in revenue would have dipped to around $100 million without football.

“With all the ancillary things, as they add up, it really had that dramatic an impact,” Beekman said. “So we’ve been doing a tremendous amount of budget cutting.”

At Iowa, speculation has begun regarding the possible resurrection of four sports cut by the university athletic department as a means to make ends meet in the absence of a single fall football season. The Des Moines Registerreports that eight hours after the Big Ten announced it was intending to conduct a fall football season after all, a group of Iowa alumni called on athletic director Gary Barta to immediately reverse his Aug. 24 decision to eliminate four sports programs — men's gymnastics, men's tennis, and men's and women's swimming and diving.

“We’re concerned that we will lose great athletic talent, as well as tuition and other economic support for the university if this problem is not fixed immediately,” former Iowa football player Matt Purdy, whose son Ryan is on the swimming team, said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon by Save Iowa Sports.

Barta has said he will not reconsider his decision, which came at a time he was estimating a loss of revenue of up to $100 million for his athletic department. It is unclear how much of that loss will be offset by the planned nine-game Big Ten football season announced Wednesday morning.

After a summer that combined patience and panic, Big Ten member schools will still have to wait and see how a planned nine-game football season even plays out before assessing its full impact. After all, games will all be held without paying customers in attendance, and there's no guarantee that all of them will be played.

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