PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – JUNE 30
By Leo Haggerty

AND IT BEGINS

Sadly, the Grim Reaper is starting to strike athletic departments on college campuses.  One of the first is the University of Iowa where the athletic department announced today that it was cutting its budget by about $15 million.  This is due to the expected loss of revenue that the coronavirus pandemic will cause.

Iowa officials said that the athletic budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year was $124.2 million.  The anticipated 2020-21 expenditure was calculated to be $127.5 million but that needed to be adjusted.

Due to the possibility of limited fan attendance due to Covid-19, $15 million has been trimmed for the upcoming fiscal year.  Operating expensed were cut by $13 million with the other approximately $2 million in the form of compensation.

These figures are based on assumptions that the University of Iowa football and basketball seasons will be played with fans in attendance.  If this is not the case, and it sure looks like it will be athletic events without fans in Iowa City, then more significant cuts may be on the horizon for the Hawkeyes.

Athletic Director Gary Barta, who I have met on numerous occasions when the Hawkeyes were invited to play in the Outback Bowl, stated emphatically that “These are challenging times with significant uncertainty.  We are grateful for the loyal and generous support of our fans and appreciate knowing that they are with us as we face this adversity.”

So, the curtailing of athletic budgets begin.  Iowa is one of the first of the Power 5 conference schools that has started the systematic cutback of monies allocated to athletics.  This is strictly due to the possible elimination of anticipated revenue generated from predominately football.

Don’t expect the Black & Gold to be the only institution of higher learning with big-time athletics to start the paring back the funding for intercollegiate athletics.  The rest will follow suit very soon.

The Hawkeyes are hoping, like the rest of collegiate athletic programs, for one of the pharmaceutical companies to come up with a vaccine or an alternative that can eradicate the coronavirus or, at least, slow the spread.  If that doesn’t occur, look for bigger and deeper cuts in not just Iowa City but at colleges and universities nationwide.

The powerhouse athletic programs need fans in the stands to exists financially.  No fans equates to no revenue and that’s a death sentence for college athletics.

Here’s hoping, for Iowa’s sake and the rest of college sports, that by the end of August there’s a way to allow fans to show up in droves and not with limited access.  If the later happens, or games are played in empty venues, intercollegiate athletics will become a thing of the past and nobody wants to see that happen.