The decision by the Big Ten Conference to postpone fall sports is creating more than disappointment and frustration for conference schools, athletes and fans. For university athletic departments, it is presenting what could be unprecedented financial challenges. Faced with enormous fixed costs and no events to generate revenue, everything from tickets sales to media rights to concessions, athletic directors are searching for answers.
“There really aren’t enough levers that we can pull and adjustments we can make to cover all of the fixed costs that exist at this point, including having to make some very tough personnel and programmatic reductions in the near term, there will still be a gap,” said Purdue University Vice President and Director of Athletics Mike Bobinski, who adds the impact is so substantial conference schools will likely need some form of financial assistance. “We’ll need some type of financing instrument to get through this,” said Bobinski. “”Where that will come from and how that will be structured is yet to be determined, but it’s almost a certainty that will be necessary.”
Bobinski talked about the economic challenges facing Purdue and other Big Ten athletic departments on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Ironically, Purdue has just launched “More Than a Game,” what Bobinski describes as a very aggressive fundraising campaign targeting the Boilermaker fan base. He says the loss of fall football underscores the importance of the campaign, “so when this does clear, we can come out the other side as strong as we can possibly be and prepared to compete without this becoming a multi-year problem.”
The Big Ten’s fall sports postponement will also hit college towns a financial blindside. Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette Chief Executive Officer Jo Wade estimates an autumn with no Purdue football will translate into more than $20 million in lost spending for the area economy.