The financial ramifications of COVID-19 have yet to be fully realized, but programs have already been impacted. With Old Dominion dropping wrestling, Arkansas professor Dittmore explores the impact on olympic sports and ultimately, the US Olympic teams as many sports rely heavily on incoming...
This is an article written on a site geared towards athletic directors. Tim Russell, ITA CEO, has written a response but it has not been published yet. Tim Russell was already planning on being on Facebook live on Tuesday with Parenting Aces Lisa Stone to answer questions before this article came out.
Main points of article
1) ADs will want to keep sports with fan bases that charge admission and/or are on TV
2) Most Olympic athletes are developed via college so there may be some justification for keeping non revenue sports that develop US Olympic athletes
3) Tennis should be an easy sport to eliminate because a) low % of US Olympic athletes from college tennis compared to other Olympic sports b) 60% of D1 college tennis athletes are international
Here are some quotes:
"Since no AD will likely have this conversation publicly, let’s have it here. The conversation is very different between Division I and, say, Division III where athletes make up 50% or more of the student body on a given campus. The focus here is Division I, where athlete percentages are typically less than 4% of the student body. What if, in a post-coronavirus world, Division I athletic administrators say, “finances are squeezed. What is it we really do? We really are in the entertainment business, and while we would like to support student-athletes in a variety of programs, it no longer makes fiscal sense to do that.”
How would that look? Could Division I administrators change bylaws and say, for example, “we want football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, baseball, and softball. We want women’s volleyball and women’s soccer because we want girls to continue playing those sports at a young age. Let’s also add men’s and women’s lacrosse because those are fast growing sports and we need some balance in the spring."Five men’s sports (football, basketball, ice hockey, baseball, lacrosse) and six women’s sports (volleyball, soccer, basketball, ice hockey, softball, lacrosse). All team sports. All sports which have avid fan bases. All sports which charge admission and are television friendly. "
"The big loser in this scenario is, of course, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) which stands to see its athlete development pipeline for “Olympic sports” erased entirely. But is that college athletics’ problem? .... What does college sports receive in exchange for supporting the Olympic movement beyond the public relations benefit of saying they have Olympic fencers on campus?... Absent a sharply increased level of cooperation (NCAA, USOPC), it is conceivable “Olympic” sports at the college level may cease to exist.
"On the eve of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the NCAA boasted that “NCAA student-athletes make up most of Team USA.” By NCAA figures, 417 of the 555 (75%) U.S. Olympic athletes were incoming, current, or former NCAA athletes...Two sports, tennis (18%) and gymnastics (28%), were remarkable for the extremely low percentage of college athletes as Olympians. Which raises the question, why are colleges sponsoring sports such as these?... Consider this. The U.S. Tennis Association does not need universities to help train future Olympians, the rare Olympic sport that does not need college athletics. Further, the vast majority of collegiate tennis athletes in Power 5 schools come from outside the United States ....On April 6, 2020, I visited the men’s and women’s tennis web pages for all 14 SEC schools. Sixty percent (76/126) of men’s tennis players listed on the official athletic web page were from outside the United States. Fifty-three percent (61/115) of women’s SEC tennis players are from abroad"
What are TTW readers hearing about athletic budget cuts? Obviously athletic budgets lost $375million from the cancellation of NCAA basketball but donations could be down due to donor job and/or stock losses, revenue from student fees will be down if students dont return or student fees could be cut if classes continue online, endowments for scholarships could be down, universities have losses from refunded room and board, and state governments may cuts subsidies to universities-all these could cause significant reductions in athletic budgets before we even talk about loss of football revenue. Where do you think the cuts will be: across the board % reduction to sports budgets, cuts of entire programs, % salary cuts to coaches, loss of athletic scholarships, reduction in travel, etc.?
What are your thoughts? The scenario will probably be different between 3 groups: the P5s, the midmajors, and the smaller NAIA/D2/D3. The last group may rely on athletes to meet admissions quotas-at some of those smaller schools 40-50% of students may be athletes with some academic and athletic $ but still paying to play. Without athletics, those schools might close. The P5s if football starts will probably be OK with some budget tightening, but the midmajors fund sports primarily with student fees. Some of those schools dont have football and anyway football losing $ for most schools. What are your thoughts for athletics in general and for tennis specifically?
Unfortunately student athletes dont see the big picture. They are happy they might get an extra year or even go to graduate school on a partial tennis scholarship. They don't see much more could be at stake than whether their extra year will be funded.