Coronavirus and the economic impact of it has already created many problems for college athletics.
For the most part, softball has been spared so far. But just the other day, the Rose Bowl was moved from southern California to Dallas. Before that, plenty of bowl games have bitten the dust.
Back in August, Barry Alvarez, the athletic director at Wisconsin, hsaid that without football in 2020 his school was looking at a shortfall of over $100 million. College basketball has survived — so far.
What could all this mean for softball? That is a $100 million question.
For the biggest schools, loss of football or basketball income is going to create many changes and none of them good.
What are some of the possible areas where softball could be negatively impacted?
- Budget cuts. Forcing schools to reduce spending on travel or equipment is likely.
- Scholarship cuts. Forcing sports to reduce the overall number of scholarships they offer is likely. So a school that used to offer 12 scholarships might now only have six.
- Eliminating scholarships. Some schools will decide to keep the sport but eliminate the scholarships, basically creating a D3 model at the D1 level.
- Coaches taking pay cuts. At some of the biggest schools, softball coaches make a very good living. At the rest of the schools coaches make a living. You are likely to see the biggest coaches taking substantial cuts and all coaches taking some cuts.
- Hiring freezes. Schools who have assistant coaches leave may keep those jobs open to save on salaries.
- Support staff. Some schools will eliminate sports information or athletic trainers or grounds crew positions. Once upon a time, most coaches did all these jobs as a part of coaching. We may see those days returning.
- Regional schedules. Many schools will eliminate the big trips to California or Florida where they could play national-level opponents. They’ll instead play a schedule with mostly schools close to home.
- Travel. The days of charter flights for the biggest schools will be replaced with charter buses. The smaller schools will be replacing the charter busses with 15 passenger vans that the coaches drive, another blast from the past.
- Less games. Schools will play less games to save money. D1 is allowed 56 regular season games but don’t be surprised to see a number in the 30’s or 40’s becoming commonplace.
- More fundraising. Coaches used to be responsible for raising money to supplement their budgets. We have done everything from selling advertising to running camps to allow us to do the things we wanted to do. Coaches will be doing this again.
So there are many things on the horizon for college softball. Coronavirus has created a lot of hardships for all of us and to think that college softball would be spared was hopeful but unrealistic. How hard will softball be hit? Time will tell but, no matter what happens, college softball will survive because college softball players will never let it die!