Big 12's Bob Bowlsby Concerned About 'Full and Robust' Season amid COVID-19

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2020

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - MARCH 12: Bob Bowlsby, commissioner of the Big 12, talks to the media as he announces that the Big 12 basketball tournament has been cancelled due to growing concerns with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak at the Sprint Center on March 12, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby expressed concern Thursday regarding the state of the 2020 college football season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to ESPN's Heather Dinich, Bowlsby said he is unsure "whether or not we can have a full and robust football season."

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most major sports leagues across the world have suspended operations. The NCAA also canceled all spring sports seasons and canceled the remainder of the college basketball season prior to the NCAA tournament.

Bowlsby, who has been in touch with colleagues in the Power Five conferences, discussed how a canceled or shortened college football season could impact the Big 12 and its member schools financially: "Virtually every program is highly reliant on football revenue. We're making lots of contingency plans, but if you don't get the anticipated number of games in, you lose the donations, you lose the sponsorships, you lose the gate receipts and you lose the TV. It's potentially very impactful."

The former Iowa and Stanford athletic director noted that eliminating year-end bonuses is one step the Big 12 has taken to cut costs in case the season is impacted.

Bowlsby also touched on the uncertainty surrounding when medical experts will allow for large gatherings to take place again:

"We don't know when somebody is going to tell us it's going to be OK to go back to close contact. I suspect that medical experts and scientists are going to be slow to give the green light on that. The magic start date is probably a mirage.

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"It may be different in some high density populations and areas than it is in more remote areas. It could be certain parts of the country and not other parts of the country. I don't think there's just going to be a day when we turn it all on again. There has to be a reacclimation period because athletes aren't training at the same level they had been accustomed to."

Bowlsby said that the Big 12 has already taken a big financial hit because of the coronavirus pandemic, as the cancellation of the Big 12 basketball tournaments resulted in the loss of between $15 million and $18 million.

With regard to college football, programs are already facing a difficult situation with COVID-19 necessitating the cancellation of spring practice.

That means even if the 2020 season starts on time in August, players and coaches will be well behind the curve in terms of preparation compared to usual.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski, President Donald Trump said Saturday during a conference call with all major professional sports commissioners that the 2020 NFL season should be able to start on time in September.

There is no clear and obvious evidence to back the claim up, however, which means the college and NFL football seasons could still be in jeopardy.


Bleacher Report's David Gardner interviews athletes and other sports figures for the podcast How to Survive Without Sports.