A JERSEY GUY: Cost of COVID-19 Testing Prime Reason for MAC shutdown

Mark Blaudschun

As the college football season grew increasingly closer to shutting down for the fall,  a primary reason against moving ahead has emerged.

And as usual, it had as much to do with money as with the welfare of the players, coaches and personal involved.

According to several sources familiar with the process, a primary reason why the Mid-American Conference became the first FBS league to place a hold on football for the fall  season, involved the cost of COVID-19 testing, which could be as many as 100 people at least twice a week.

It is also a primary reason why almost half of the FCS schools have made the decision to postpone the fall football season.

Conservative estimates projected that cost at more than $20,000 a week, which far exceeded the budget limitations of athletic departments already facing loss in revenue and added costs.

And for all the chatter you heard about the concern for the well being of the coaches and players, money is the key factor.

The Power 5 conferences,with large football budgets, can factor in such costs.

The Group of 5 conferences as well as the entire FCS division of college football, with rare exceptions, can not.

The problem was quickly identified.

 One Power 5 school, which part of a conference to  to eliminate all non-conference games, was eager to schedule a regional game with an FCS rival but was told by the school that the cost of COVID-19 testing made that impossible.

"No problem'' said the Power 5 school, "We will pick up the cost of your tests.''

That was fine, but than other non-Power 5 opponents on the school's schedule, made the same request, which ended all of the discussions.

The MAC, which had its non-conference schedule filled with Power 5 schools, lost many of those opportunities when the trend of conference only games increased.

Faced with the same costs as its Power 5 brethren, without the additional huge television revenue, the MAC found itself in a financial sink hole regarding testing and put the FCS level schools in even more financial difficulty.

Power 5 schools, while having the resources, also know that tough financial times are coming and are also facing rising costs and declining revenue.
"If we stop, furloughs and other cutbacks are coming,'' conceded one conference official. ""There is no doubt about it.''

***

Other news items created by shutdowns or potential shutdowns..It already happened at the University of Connecticut which suspended football for the season earlier this week and now it could  happen to MAC schools and perhaps some individual schools such as Colorado State and Old Dominion who are on the verge of shutting down

Other schools, looking for additional talent, have started to poach. That is an NCAA violation because the school has only temporarily stopped football and the players, until they indicate otherwise, have no intention of leaving.

The NCAA needs to take a harsh stance at such actions.

The NCAA also needs (as soon as possible) send its member schools practice protocols IF AND WHEN THERE IS A SHUT DOWN.

The NCAA has practice rules for spring football, summer camp football and fall football in terms of practice procedure and number of workouts.

Right now, it has NO RULES for what teams can do if college football is called off for the season in the next few weeks.