NCAA To Announce Plans for Fall Sports

The NCAA Board of Governors, the highest governing body of college athletics in the U.S., met on Tuesday to determine the fate of its fall championships. The meeting ended without a vote.

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced on Twitter that after meeting with the board it was determined in the best interests of the student-athletes that the NCAA would not make a decision of fall sports just yet and would provide an update to the membership and the public sometime on Wednesday.

And so we wait.

Understanding What’s at Stake

It’s important to understand the actual power of the NCAA. Should the organization decide to cancel its fall championships, that does not have any bearing on regular seasons. For example, the NCAA men’s soccer national championship tournament is cancelled. The Big Ten, ACC, and every other conference can still hold their regular season and their own conference championship.

The NCAA also does not control the College Football Playoff. The CFP is run by the conferences. Essentially, the NCAA could cancel all fall championships, but we could still have an FBS season complete with a national championship game at the end.

Many FBS conference commissioners have expressed their opinion about cancelling any championships. Most want to see them played and there’s plenty of reasons why.

Follow the Money

While six FCS conferences have already cancelled the 2020 football season, Power 5 conferences are already exploring the possibility of playing their own championships for fall sports. If there is not a 2020 FBS season, the financial loss across the nation could reach $4 billion.

At many of the premier football programs like Ohio State, Clemson, and Alabama; football can generate $150 million or more per season. At most FBS schools, football revenue funds all of the other sports.

When the NCAA scrapped March Madness, it cost schools a reported $375 million. With spring sports cancelled, many colleges and universities have already had to take drastic measures and cut sports.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there have been 61 different Division I sports’ programs that have been either suspended or eliminated. Stanford alone cut 11 varsity sports because of a projected $70 million shortfall over the next three years.

The reason why FBS conference commissioners want to play football this fall is all about the money.

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Make a Decision

Money or not, the NCAA still needs to make a decision. A number of critics have bashed Emmert for his inability to do just that. The NCAA’s Football Oversight Committee has maintained for months now that the board simply cannot wait any longer. Whatever the decision is, it is going to have a huge impact on other sports.

College basketball is waiting idly by for some direction. There has been some talk of starting the basketball season in January, but there will be no decision until there is one on fall sports.

The lack of a decision is leading some to believe that the NCAA’s days may be numbered. With FBS conference’s ownership of the CFP, those conferences could venture off and create their own organization.

The conferences could hold their own championship events in any or all sports free from the governance of the NCAA. Is that where we are headed?  

It’s possible. About the only thing that is certain heading into the 2020 college football season is that it will be full of uncertainty.

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.