NCAA president Mark Emmert says schools being able to reopen is biggest variable for fall sports

·2 min read

While the NBA, NHL and MLB had their seasons halted or delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, all three still plan to eventually crown a champion. The same can't be said for the NCAA, who had to cancel March Madness and the Frozen Four just before it was set to begin.

An entire season was derailed, seniors lost their last chance to capture March magic and the financial impact will surely be felt for years to come. NCAA President Mark Emmert joined NBC Sports' Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live on Thursday to describe just how bad it felt to see the tournament get taken away by a global pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding fall sports. 

"The fact is the NCAA generates revenue only from its official championships, and the only one that generates consequential revenue is the Men's Basketball Tournament," Emmert said. "That distribution (to schools and universities) had to be cut dramatically, and so schools and conferences are dealing with a smaller distribution coming from the basketball tournament.

"We're working on a shoestring like everyone today ... To rip away the Men's Tournament and Frozen Four was gut-wrenching," he said.

Winter sports had their seasons cut short, while spring sports were canceled altogether. With social distancing ordinances generally unchanged as of now, there remains uncertainty surrounding fall sports and whether they will go on as originally scheduled. 

As for the NCAA, they're waiting on public health officials not only to deem it safe to play but safe enough for schools to reopen. 

"It's going to be very unpredictable," he said. "We're relying on federal, state and local health officials which means this could be very different across parts of the country. The biggest variable here isn't when we can play a game, it's when can schools reopen?"

Emmert also mentioned to Tirico that the NCAA had to reduce its budget by 45% following the loss of this year's basketball championships. Safe to say, losing a college football season would present quite the challenge to collegiate sports. 

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NCAA president Mark Emmert says schools being able to reopen is biggest variable for fall sports originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington