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Volume 26 No. 176
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SBJ Unpacks: Tom McMillen On COVID-19's Impact On Colleges

While coronavirus’ impact on college athletics has been profound, for many universities, the level of financial devastation they face will come down to the success of the '20 football season. On the most recent episode of the "SBJ Unpacks -- Weathering COVID-19" podcast, our Bill King sat down with Tom McMillen, the former NBAer and congressman who now heads up the association of D-I athletic directors, to discuss the impact that missing the season could have on college athletics, in addition to other dilemmas brought on by the virus.

On the impact coronavirus will have on athletic departments' bottom lines:
McMillen: If you don’t have football, which really would be the worst case, I think we saw a majority of our ADs say there would be a 20% decrease in revenues. ... It actually could be worse depending upon circumstances. If you don’t have ticket sales, if you don’t have television, if you don’t have a whole host of things that are associated with football, sponsorships, even donations, will be impacted by the market slides and the markets falling.

On college athletics’ historical resilience and ability to stay afloat during times of crisis:
McMillen: The Great Depression lasted 10 years, and college football played through that. This is going to be maybe a six-month episode in American history hopefully, and hopefully we get it under control and life can resume. My parents grew up in the Depression, and it dramatically changed their view of the world, and I think there will be some of that lingering effect afterwards, but this is one of those temporal situations that we will get over, albeit with lots of pain.

On college athletic departments’ finances:
McMillen: On the financial security side, it’s pretty understandable that as football goes, so goes next year’s budgets. That was pretty clear in all the survey numbers and on top of all that, there seems to be more of an appetite for some cost containment measures if they can be put in place. That has traditionally not been the case, but there seems to be some appetite to deal with the arms race.