The Monetary Toll of a Sports-less Semester

Ryan Jones, Managing Editor

As Central Connecticut State University faces the loss in revenue from online learning, their athletic department grapples with another loss of revenue, a semester without games. The consequences of this could mean a loss of roughly $916,500 in expected revenue.

All of the games scheduled for Central Connecticut this fall were off the table after the Northeast Conference announced the postponement of the season on July 9. Though there’s never a good time for a pandemic, the loss of the fall sports season in particular is brutal for college athletic departments. For CCSU, it cost hundreds of thousands.

CCSU football brought in the most revenue in both guaranteed games and outright ticket sales among all of the school’s sports (based on average of past three seasons obtained by the Recorder). Guaranteed games are road games played against upper-level schools in which schools like CCSU get paid to play in.

This fall, CCSU football was scheduled to play in a guarantee game against Toledo. That game would have made CCSU athletics $325,000, which alone accounts for roughly a third of all revenue in the department in a given year.

In a typical year, football will bring in $412,500 in guarantee games and an additional $22,000 in ticket sales.

With no games being played, the department does save the money that would have been used for travel costs.

With football’s season gone, the attention now is on basketball. The NCAA recently announced that there would be a season played, but with some parameters which we discussed in our story about the college basketball season.

Basketball will be traveling as little and as close as possible this season. Even with the chance of guarantee games, schools are not doling out the money they typically would in a given year considering none of them know if fans will be allowed.

CCSU men’s basketball was scheduled to play at UConn and Virginia Tech, both of which presumably would be guarantee games. If these games are still to be played, the money coming in would be significantly less than what was worked out before.

In a normal year, men’s basketball brings in $408,000 in guarantee games, just shy of the amount brought in by football. The team draws roughly $17,000 in ticket sales.

Women’s basketball typically brings in another $52,000 in guarantee game money and $5,000 in ticket sales.

Between guarantee games and ticket sales, roughly $916,500 is brought into the CCSU athletic department from football and basketball alone. This number accounts for a majority of the profit made in a year, which is true for all college athletic departments. With half of that gone already, the NCAA and its schools are scrambling to put together some sort of season.

Guarantee games and ticket sales are of course not the only money coming into the athletic department. Donors play a huge role in the department’s funding, though opportunities for fundraising have also been effected by the pandemic.

Two of the biggest revenue drawing events, a wine tasting and golf tournament, could of course not be held this year due to the pandemic. Pincince said one of the things the department is working on is other fundraising ideas. The department has also been hard at work securing and maintaining their corporate sponsors.

Central’s athletic department is a tightly run ship and thanks to the low number of employees have not had to face any issues with furloughs.

Sports are often seen as an escape from reality. In the entertainment that sports bring us, we often forget the realities holding the foundation that is sports together, none of which bigger than money. Yes, college sports are entertaining and an important part of American culture. But first and foremost, they are a business.