Could the MAC Eliminating Conference Tournaments Become a Trend for Mid-Major Leagues?
Due to shutdowns with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, college sports have already taken a hit for long-term scheduling.
Universities like Cincinnati and Florida Atlantic have discontinued certain programs and furloughed athletic department employees, while the California State University system decided to go online only in fall, which could have a major impact on college football in the state.
The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced on Tuesday that the league would reduce postseason schedules to most of its sports to try and cut costs in wake of the global pandemic.
The league is dissolving its conference tournaments in field hockey, men's soccer, women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis, women's lacrosse, softball and baseball. The top regular-season record in those sports will determine the champions.
Also, the conference tournaments in men's and women's basketball will feature eight teams instead of 12. Both basketball conference schedules will now expand to 20 games starting next season, with baseball and softball increasing to 30 games.
The MAC announced that these new changes will be in place for the next four years.
“As a result of the financial crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption to the economy, the Mid-American Conference established a working group to explore efficiencies in sports operations across its 24 sponsored sports. The focus was on reducing costs in alignment with institutional mandates, consistent with institutional priorities and principles of equity and diversity," wrote the MAC in a statement.
Football will be the lone sport that doesn't see any cuts within the MAC. Most college football diehards and degenerate gamblers know about MAC-tion football games that are played on random Tuesday-Wednesday nights. The conference will need football television revenue in order to help improve its financial situation. But who knows if the college football season will proceed as planned.
Mid-major leagues across the country, such as Conference USA and the WAC, could easily follow in these footsteps that the MAC took in order to save money. C-USA and the WAC benefit greatly from NCAA Tournament basketball revenue that the league receives and without March Madness, conferences like C-USA could be putting a lot of stock in college football returning in order to combat against cutbacks.
But if states like California start to resort to online-only schooling for the fall, how are these programs going to justify holding football on their campuses? Trimming down conference tournaments could be the least of the worries. Schools outside the Power-5 conferences might have to evaluate entire athletic departments and decide whether to keep the sports that don't generate enough revenue.
This is only the start of what could be a massive fallout in college athletics due to the coronavirus pandemic. And a lot hinges on college football being played this fall.