Commissioner Bob Bowlsby discusses the future of Big 12 sports

GRAFTON—As the coronavirus continues to rear its ugly head and spring sports are in jeopardy of folding, one must wonder if the pandemic will affect summer and fall sports as well.
Though the league hasn’t officially received word to make a move to cancel their spring football games, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby recently said that it’s unlikely that any school would be able to hold one.
“It’s very unlikely we’ll have any spring games,” Bowlsby stated. “I don’t believe we’ll have any additional spring practice. We’re looking at a window of 6-8 weeks (before returning to activities), so it’s very unlikely that’s going to happen. Spring practice is up to individual schools so theoretically, they can do those things on their own. We do control the number of days of spring practice. I think it’s going to be awhile before we go back to any live activity on campuses.”
Bowlsby has also not ruled out the possibility of football games taking place this fall without any fans in the bleachers, at least to begin the season.
“It’s possible we could return to some form of competition before we are comfortable with a return to public assembly,” Bowlsby explained. “We could return to playing in front of no crowds. The games would still be on TV, but the environment would be far poorer as far as having no crowds in the stands. It’s hard to imagine looking up into a grandstand and seeing people sitting six feet apart. There will probably be lots of consideration to what types of public assembly people will want to allow. I do think it will cause people to take pause and wonder what types of things they are sharing other than enthusiasm for a team. It’s hard to forecast those things, because we have things happening right now that we couldn’t have envisioned three weeks ago. Right now, our plan is to play the football season as scheduled.”
As only time will tell whether the fall sports season will be affected, the NCAA and Big 12 did see a drastic loss in revenue due to the cancellation of postseason basketball tournaments.
The Big 12, for instance, will have lost an estimated $6.6 million with the cancellation of the Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments due to the loss of television and ticket earnings.
The NCAA also announced a reduction in the money that will be distributed to member schools this year. The association usually disperses $600 million to conferences in Divisions 1, 2, and 3. Now, that total will drop to $225 million this year. For the Big 12, that means a deficiency of $14 million.
But because the league will save money by not hosting any spring championships, it is estimated that the total loss will fall between $15-18 million.


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