Ivy League postponing fall sports does not mean college football won’t happen in 2020
Back in March, the Ivy League was the first to cancel its college basketball conference tournament, setting off a chain reaction of many other conferences doing the same amid the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, March Madness was canceled. On Wednesday, the Ivy League announced that they will not be playing sports in the fall. They did not say whether the sports could be played next year.
Though the league’s decision could signal what will be coming for other conferences, the circumstances of this situation are different.
As The Athletic’s Scott Dochterman points out, the revenue gap between what the Ivy League generates in football and what a major college football conference like the Big Ten generates in football revenue is significant.
The Ivy League generated about $30.1 million in football revenue in 2019, compared to about $1 billion for the Big Ten last year.
Ivy League's 8 schools generated about $30.1 million in football-only revenue in FY19.
Big Ten's 14 schools generated about $1.02 billion in football revenue in FY19.
P5 conferences will look at Ivy League but doesn't mean they will follow directly. https://t.co/FOoGTWBjKD
— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) July 8, 2020
The point is: when doing an economic cost-benefit analysis, the decision to not play sports in the fall for Ivy League teams is a much easier one to make because there are fewer costs. For conferences like the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, which are comprised of many public schools, the financial impact is much greater, giving administrators more to consider and more reasons to try making a season take place.
Keep in mind that the Ivy League has not outright canceled fall sports; they have just said they will not play sports in the fall.
Their athletic directors reportedly are open to a spring football season.
Ivy League expected to allow activities/meeting/lifting during the fall — to be determined by individual schools — per multiple sources. ADs haven't closed door on a spring football season.
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) July 8, 2020
Maybe Division I FBS programs will not play a season this fall. Maybe the season will be postponed until the spring. But remember there is a lot more at stake financially for FBS programs — especially the Power 5 conferences — than there is for an Ivy League program.