With the spread of COVID-19 causing the NCAA to cancel the remainder of winter sports’ championships and spring sports’ seasons, the Big 12 Conference has taken a hit economically due to the games not being played.
The first tournaments that were canceled due to the virus were the men’s and women’s Big 12 Championships. A few days later, the NCAA announced the March Madness college basketball tournaments would not happen as well. As the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships did not happen in Kansas City, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said it cost the conference $6.6 million.
Due to the cancelation of the winter and spring championship events, the NCAA Board of Governors voted unanimously to distribute $225 million in June. The amount is actually $375 million less than what they originally planned, as they had budgeted $600 million. For the Big 12, Bowlsby said the conference would normally get around $24 million from that, but now it will get around $10 million.
While the basketball championships bring in large amounts of revenue for the conference, Bowlsby said the football season is the biggest driver for money. While Bowlsby said the season is still set to be played as scheduled, he recognized the possibility of it being affected and the economic ramifications it would bring.
“(College football) is a driver from a popularity standpoint, it’s a driver for schools from a fundraising standpoint, it’s a big driver from a TV standpoint and it’s a big driver from a team sales and revenue standpoint,” Bowlsby said.
Bowlsby and the conference have not done a lot of modeling or planning regarding the college football season as they are more concerned with the next 60 to 90 days. Depending on how the next couple of months look regarding the spread of COVID-19, Bowlsby said he will then start modeling what the fall sports seasons would look like as circumstances continue to change each week.
“It’s a whole new ballgame if we find ourselves not playing football,” Bowlsby said. “It affects everything we do.”
For perspective, Bowlsby said the college football season affects the largest part of television revenue and the largest source of campus revenue in live games. The revenue from the football season also impacts other smaller sports’ scholarship money.
“Anything that I say regarding finances has to make the assumption that we are gonna be back to playing football in the fall,” Bowlsby said. “If that doesn’t happen then the underpinning of what we’ve known as normal goes away and we’ll have major changes to make.”
Although concerns of COVID-19 have had a negative effect on the Big 12 economically, the conference has also saved money in some aspects.
As a result of a number of participation subsidies, Bowlsby said the conference will save about $3.5 million from now and the end of the year. For supplemental basketball revenue, the Big 12 received $1 million earlier this year and the money from that is already in the bank. He also added the conference had a second team in the College Football Playoff as Oklahoma played in the semifinal and Baylor participated in the Sugar Bowl.
Along with the money the conference receive from its teams’ performance, Bowlsby said the Big 12 will save around $2.5 to 5 million in its budget from not hosting conference championships this season and downsizing its operations staff.
“There are some fairly good size negatives and a few positives that will make a difference, but it looks like the net (loss) could be in the $15-18 million range which obviously goes directly to distribution,” Bowlsby said. “Those are round numbers. It’s a little early to determine if that’s going to play itself out.”