The Liberty University athletic department is projecting a revenue shortfall of nearly $1 million for this fiscal year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The cancellation of the men’s basketball tournament means that the revenue distribution from the NCAA is going to be about 37 cents on the dollar from what we’ve previously received,” Liberty athletic director Ian McCaw stated. “In our case, that’s going to represent a high six-figure loss of revenue. In addition to that, we’re also going to have a shortfall in ASUN revenue and we had some baseball ticket refunds as well. When you put that all together, we have very close to seven-figures of lost revenue.”
“On the flip side though, there are savings from spring sports travel that we didn’t need to fund,” he said. “We also made some reductions in other operating expenses and other administrative areas, and that’s allowed us to offset that entire revenue shortfall. As far as this year’s budget, we’re in a good place.”
The most important thing to the athletic department, McCaw said, was prioritizing the welfare of its student-athletes amid the COVID-19 shutdown.
“We made our top priority to be the safety and welfare of our student-athletes and staff,” he said. “That’s been paramount and really the forefront of all the decisions we’ve made.”
Financial challenges for collegiate athletics continues to be a topic of much conversation around the country, and there could be a larger challenge on the horizon with the uncertainty relating to whether sports will resume at a full level before the 2020 college football season is scheduled to begin.
Any disruption to football has the potential to cause much more significant losses to athletic operations at Division I institutions across the country. The willingness of the public to buy tickets amid economic losses will be a major topic for sports teams in coming months.
“As we look to next year, there is certainly a lot of uncertainty out there,” said McCaw. “We’ve made some contingency plans just based on how things go. I’m personally very optimistic that we’re going to return to more normal operations over the course of the summer and be ready for the fall, I think.”
“We’re very blessed under President Falwell’s leadership here at Liberty,” McCaw said. “The University has done very well and it has a strong financial standing and a substantial endowment. We’re at a much better position to weather challenging times than most other higher education institutions.”