These are tough times – here, there and everywhere. It could be even more difficult in the University of Arizona athletic department if the Arizona football program doesn’t play this season.
No season – fall or spring – could mean a loss of $60 to 65 million in lost revenue. Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke called the figures “ballpark” numbers.
“It’s such a fluid situation and you don’t know how much revenues will truly be realized if we have a season in the spring,” Heeke said in a conference call with reporters on Friday morning.
“I just can’t get a dart and get the number,” Heeke added.
It’s not clear if UA does play in the spring how much that would help curtail that large deficit. Arizona’s annual budget Heeke said on Friday is $94 million. He said no layoffs are planned and that the plan of a 10 percent cut in all sports is in place. And there’s a 15 percent cut for all administrative programs. No sports will be cut.
Still, it’s not even a certainty college football will be played in the spring, but that’s the idea. It clearly will get helped if the Big 12, SEC and ACC go through with their plan of playing this fall.
Time will tell. Arizona is getting ready to get plans in motion for how it will look, but truly that’s going to be a difficult process. What are the biggest unknowns?
“The biggest unknown is what plan should we make,” Heeke said. “So, we have to make multiple plans. And that’s very challenging on our staff and our teams, and our student-athletes. That unknown is the real big challenge we have. You know you just go, day to day; stay focused on our student-athletes, their best interests and continue to move forward.”
But until then, Arizona will deal with its problems and plans as the general student body and its student-athlete population begin to mingle in the coming days to weeks in what will be test-lab for college students in southern Arizona.
A majority of UA football players have been on campus for a few weeks with few Corona virus positives. Arizona students are starting to get tested this week and will continue to get tested before the Aug. 24 first day of school.
Now what, given the UA on-campus population will expand to young students mixing and mingling with, well, everyone. What’s the protocol for the student-athletes?
Heeke said he’s talked to every team on campus and the “new environment that exists.”
“I’ve been very clear, along with our medical team about all of our responsibility in our community, on our campus community and in the greater community to follow the protocols to be safe, that this is more, this is bigger than yourself,” he said. “We’ve tried to deliver that message to our student-athletes. I think again we are football student athletes who have been here, and our, our support staff and coaches have done an excellent job in doing that.”
Physical distancing, masks at all times, sanitizing your hands are all emphasized.
“But we’ve reminded them that the decisions that you make socially outside of our environment are critically important,” he said. “You not only put yourself at risk, but you can put others in ways we have to think beyond that. So, this is a great learning opportunity, an outstanding teaching opportunity for our student athletes. I’m very hopeful that they will utilize this in that fashion.”