Per The Athletic, the Pac-12 Conference of the NCAA will move its Fall football season to a conference-only schedule. It will still be happening, just in a slightly more contained manner. They will be the second conference to make this decision after the Big-10 conference announced similar plans one day prior.
One question raised in the minds of many (or at least mine) is as follows:
Why is college football happening in the first place?
In the past few weeks, college students across the country have refreshed their emails day after day with anticipation of their school’s Fall plans. For some, they’ve found they wouldn’t be permitted to return to campus and should get ready for another semester of online learning. A popular decision amongst colleges in the Northeast has been a mixed in-person/online learning approach.
For student-athletes, many have found that their sports seasons are already canceled.
Obviously, schools in areas with high COVID-19 rates have been affected the most. Look at Los Angeles for example. This past week, Pomona College, a small liberal arts school just outside of the LA, announced that they were shutting down campus entirely for the Fall. No in-person classes for anyone, and certainly no sports for anyone. Pomona has a student body of 1600.
Now lets look at the Pac-12 and why their decision is so illogical.
The Pac-12 has tons of schools located in infection hotspots. Take the University of California, Los Angeles. UCLA has over 40,000 students, and LA county has recorded over 130,000 cases. Yet, due to the Pac-12’s recent decision, they will have Fall sports.
UCLA is planning on having 20% of its student body return for in-person classes this Fall. For some perspective, that means that UCLA will have more students on campus than 5x Pomona’s entire student body. And Pomona decided it wouldn’t be safe to return at all. Pomona and UCLA are less than an hour apart.
See the problem?
Although we don’t know everything that goes on behind the scenes with these types of decisions, we do know some very relevant pieces to the puzzle.
Corruption in the NCAA
UCLA has a Division I football team that generates $130 million in revenue each year. Pomona is a Division III school that shares its football team with neighboring school Pitzer College. UCLA depends on their Football revenue, and Pomona does not. (UCLA is just an example to prove this point, you can go down the line with the other schools in the Pac-12 to see the same thing)
Last year, the NCAA racked up $1.06 billion in annual revenue. While much of that is from college basketball (namely March Madness), football rounds out the rest of the number. The pandemic canceled March Madness entirely. The NCAA missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars, and they certainly don’t want to see a repeat with football.
With that in mind, we can see how the comparison of the two schools’ Fall plans reveals a major issue within the NCAA. It is going to be a health risk to bring this many students back, yet that doesn’t seem to be of their concern.
Is the NCAA prioritizing money over the safety of its student-athletes? Are they putting people in harm’s way so they can have their college football season? It sure looks that way, and until proven otherwise we have no reason to think differently.