Best of SI: Coronavirus Has College Football's 2020 Season In Jeopardy

Justin Grasso

Gene Corrigan's four decades in college sports seemingly ran the gamut of administrative experiences.

He was a coach and administrator during much of the Vietnam War, experiencing social unrest, campus demonstrations and counterculture movements. As an athletic director at the University of Virginia, he navigated the seismic changes brought on by the implementation of Title IX. He was the ACC commissioner during the conference’s game-changing expansion that added Florida State, and he was president of the NCAA in the mid-1990s while the association grappled with the first major wave of basketball players leaving early for the NBA.

“My dad had to deal with a lot of different things,” says NC State athletic director Boo Corrigan, “but he never had a pandemic.”

Across the country, administrators like Boo Corrigan are grappling with an unprecedented set of challenges—including the realization that life in college athletics may be, at best, temporarily and significantly altered. The impacts of the novel coronavirus to its cash cow, football, could bring a swift, and potentially permanent, end to the golden age of the industry. Just 143 days before its scheduled kickoff, the season’s existence is clouded with uncertainty as a plague hampers the nation, with billions of TV dollars and ticket revenues in jeopardy of disappearing.

Industry executives are already creating contingency plans for a nuclear fall of no football. At Clemson, for instance, Dan Radakovich has commissioned a handful of associates to investigate the what-ifs, calling it a disaster-preparedness committee. “I don’t know that we’ve named it,” he says, “because I don’t have an acronym for doom.”

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