CFB Teams Face Up to $160M Loss If All Non-Conference Games Are Canceled

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2020

New Mexico State quarterback Josh Adkins (14) is tackled by Mississippi defenders during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

Universities reportedly stand to lose upward of $160 million if all non-conference games are canceled in 2020.

Aria Gerson and Steve Berkowitz of USA Today reported schools from non-Power Five schools could be significantly affected because much of their revenue from the football season comes from non-conference games.

"We get money directly from the state, we get money from the school, from student fees, from our multimedia rights holders, from our ticket sales, and we have budgeted for reductions in all of those areas," New Mexico State athletic director Mario Moccia said. "This is one area where there are no cuts that we can make to make up for losing one or both guarantee games."

New Mexico State's game against UCLA was canceled last week when the Pac-12 announced its intention to only play in-conference games this season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's likely the school's other Power Five game against Florida will suffer the same fate.

Power Five conferences have seemingly coalesced in the idea that a conference-only schedule is the best way forward in completing some sort of 2020 season. These conferences all have significant financial implications tied to their television networks and contracts with broadcast stations that make playing in-conference games carry more weight than non-conference contests.

However, smaller schools rely on non-conference games in many cases to fund a large portion of their athletic budget. Whether smaller schools receive payment will ultimately depend on the language of the contract they signed with the Power Five school.

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Moccia said New Mexico State would lose $2.7 million this year if Florida and UCLA don't pay the school for their game.

"There are no more sports to discontinue. We're down to 16 (the minimum for FBS schools)," Moccia said. "So, we're going to have to wait and see what happens in the next few days with other leagues—if they're going to do the same thing, if they're going to be looking for replacement opponents, maybe we could slide in. … If ($2.7 million) comes off the board and there are no sports to discontinue, you could, in theory, lay off the entire athletic department and it wouldn't equal ($2.7 million)."