Athletic budgets hurting with football uncertainty


Season on the Brink

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – Athletic departments rely heavily on revenue from football to keep operations running smoothly, so what happens if there is no football or limited football?

Middle Tennessee’s Chris Massaro sat down with News 2 to go over the difficulties he’s facing as their major money-maker is in major trouble.

Q: Alright, so let’s start off with what a typical year would look like. How much do you rely on the finances and the revenue from football to run not just the football program but the rest of the athletic department?

Chris Massaro, Middle Tennessee Athletic Director: Yeah, football is the economic driver. I think everybody knows that, so the football revenues are important. Obviously they’ve already been eaten into because you will not have a complete schedule we will have to limit fans.

Q: How much is this year different as far as what you would typically bring in, in a football season with all those money games, compared to having to bring in Army and a home and home with Troy?

Massaro: Some of it depends on the outcome of the contracts. Whether we continue to play or the SEC continues to play, and so what will be the settlement on some of the games that aren’t played? We get a lot of money from our TV contracts and our TV contracts have been damaged. We also get a lot of money with the college football playoff and so we don’t know what that structure might look like and so there are a lot of unknowns out there and so we just have to be flexible.

Q: You have been so flexible, I mean we talked about the games you’ve lost, but you’ve already added more and I think a big one that we’re eyeing is that opener against Army. How does that work TV contract-wise?

Massaro: Because that’s Army’s home game, that’ll be on their TV contract. We’re excited about that Army game. I think to play that game early, we have to be able to take our team to an environment that we know will be safe. Without the Big Ten and the Pac-12, there are opportunities, and they’re looking to fill more of their Saturday dates. So I think it’s important for us to be with the other southern-based conferences and it would be nice if our doctors were talking to their doctors and we’re all on the same page and we can all make decisions together. I think that’s what’s been missing in college football.

Q: Alright, we’ve talked the last couple of minutes with the premise, if you do play and it works out. If you don’t, I know that there are still a lot of questions that come with that, being eligibility and scholarship. You’re dealing with that already with some of the spring sport athletes. What is the cost if they’re granted another year of eligibility? You have another class coming in next year too, how difficult is that to manage?

Massaro: That would be hard to manage, but I think at the end of the day, it’s still the right thing to do and so you can’t let finances drive the horse. Just like the decision whether to play or not to play, that can’t be a financial decision. It’s got to be what’s best for the student-athletes.

It’s a season of change for football. From the NFL to high school, News 2 digs deeper into the impact COVID-19 is having on the game.
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