As the logistics of how college athletics will resume continue to be worked out, one thing is clear: the loss of the 2020 college football season would be incredibly costly.
According to a report from ESPN's Mark Schlabach and Paula Lavigne, a canceled college football season would result in a $4 billion loss for college athletic programs across the country. This would add to an already significant toll that the coronavirus pandemic has wrought on college athletics, as programs have lost hundreds of millions so far.
"If there's no football season, or if football season is interrupted or shortened, there will be a massive fallout," TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said to ESPN. "There would have to be massive cutbacks. Could the department go on? Sure. It would probably look smaller. There would potentially be fewer sports and much less programming."
Public schools' athletic departments in the Power 5 conferences make about half of their total operating revenue from football, according to ESPN, with about 14% of that coming from ticket sales. Several schools have dropped some of their programs already to help offset some of the costs.
Schools are in the midst of taking every precaution to ensure the doomsday scenario of no college football season can be avoided. The sport's top decision-makers have talked on a weekly basis to go over their options and ensure they're as prepared as possible for if (and when) they receive the eventual go-ahead that practices can resume.
The wheels of progress are slowly churning forward. The NCAA voted to lift the nationwide ban on on-campus activities from June 1 to June 30, meaning players will soon be able to return to campus for voluntary practices. There won't be any coaches at these practices, and they won't be mandatory for players, but the move is an important first step to the sport's eventual return.