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What's Expected From COVID-19 Relief Packages For College Sports Teams

ByAndrew Pistone

Published on Sun Oct 03 2021

|

2 min read

What's Expected From COVID-19 Relief Packages For College Sports Teams

As many wise individuals have said over the years, it’s never a bad idea to follow the money. By following its trail, one can usually find who has ultimate power, discern where priorities lie, and understand why decisions are made. Universities received stimulus payments, if you will, from the federal government in the last year or so. How they decide to spend the money is their prerogative, and many have made interesting calls about how much was earmarked for their athletic department, and what they did with that slice.

For example, the LSU athletic department received $4 million of the funds the school was allotted by the federal government. They elected to use almost 100

of that money on COVID testing for its players. However, the athletic departments for Georgia State, Texas Tech and UTEP decided to use their cut entirely against lost revenues. The University of Washington spread their $2 million dollars around, devoting most of it to testing, but allocating some funding for super senior scholarships, quarantine housing services, and PPE/sanitation related costs.

of UNM's allocated HEERF II funds, according to this table: https://t.co/CwlxcJee2x pic.twitter.com/Q6Nt392LU9

— Daniel Libit (@DanielLibit) 5Etfw">May 28, 2021

However, it’s unlikely that sports programs were factored into the federal government’s equation when determining how much to give each university.

“The goal was to just get money out quickly and help some colleges keep operating,” noted University of Tennessee professor Robert Kelchen. “Athletics was an afterthought, at most, and a non-thought most likely when Congress and the Department of Education were thinking about how to allocate money. Via Sportico.com

Athletic departments across the nations were hit hard by the pandemic during the 2020 season. Not being able to collect ticket sales, concession or merchandise revenue was a huge wake up call for many schools. Enrollment figures for a university would also affect their total profitability, and it’s not surprising that families may have been deterred by for paying for room and board during a pandemic. It was estimated that Robert Morris University could lose up to $2.4 million in revenue during the 2020-2021 school year, due to decreased enrollment, and as much as a 75

loss in ticket and corporate sales.

The distinction between the haves and the have nots was made very clear during the pandemic, and smaller schools had to get creative with their tightened budgets.

“You know how you solve a problem at a Power Five school? You write a check. You know how you solve a problem at a Robert Morris? You’ve got to figure out a solution. That’s the difference,” Robert Morris athletic director Chris King said for context. Via Post-Gazette.com

Every institution has different goals, inherent advantages, and built in disadvantages. From the outside looking in, universities allocating hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions towards keeping an athletic program afloat might seem a little backwards. Academic sustainability and the measures that can be taken to keep students learning should come first. But college sports also plays a vital role in the lives of student athletes, which can help to justify some of this spending.

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