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Coronavirus Impact on Athletics

Nutter Center gym | Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian

Nutter Center gym | Photo by Soham Parikh | The Wright State Guardian

Wright State University (WSU) had to postpone fall sports, along with every other team in the Horizon League. But this did not have a financial impact on the athletic program. 

Losses from March Madness 

The Division I men’s basketball tournament is the NCAA’s biggest source of revenue. In the 2018-2019 fiscal year the NCAA made $867.5 million from March Madness television and marketing rights alone. 

That doesn’t take into account the amount of money that the cities where the games are being played for the tournament make. 

“Before the COVID-19 public health crisis, no one anticipated the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship being canceled, but the Association was prepared for such an unlikely possibility,” according to the NCAA’s website. 

The NCAA has a contingency plan in place that includes a robust insurance plan, reduction in Division I revenue distributions and operation budget cuts 

“As far as postponing fall sports, we aren’t losing any money because of this,” said Assistant Athletic Director of Communications Nick Phillips. “The coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty across the country, including in collegiate athletics, including the postponements of our fall seasons. The collective amount of lost ticket revenues for fall sports is offset by other expenses, such as travel, that are currently not happening because of the postponed fall seasons.”

This does not take into effect scholarships or the hold that the NCAA has put on recruiting, according to Phillips.

Fall sport athletes are back at practice and preparing to potentially play in the spring. 

There was a major financial impact on the athletic program in June when they had to cut $2 million out of their $10 million budget, which entailed cutting three sports programs.

Moving Forward 

“If the NCAA can get through next year without any major problems, we should be back to normal for our fiscal year beginning Sept. 1 of 2021,” said NCAA Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kathleen McNeely. 

Now that the NCAA has approved a start date for college basketball, WSU is waiting on a decision from the Horizon League on details regarding the season, which can make up for some of the losses they had from last season. 

There is still uncertainty surrounding what the men’s basketball tournament will look like and how many locations there will be for games. But the tournament will happen this year, a good sign for the financial aspect of college basketball around the country.