South Carolina football: impacts of a cancelled college football season

The South Carolina Gamecocks marching band performs. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The South Carolina Gamecocks marching band performs. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Big 10 has cancelled the 2020 college football season. Will it impact the South Carolina football team?

And just like that, the momentum moving toward the possibility of a fall football season has halted. The Big 10 became the first Power Five conference to cancel its 2020 season, as they announced their plan to sit out the year on Monday morning.

Things seemed to be trending in the opposite direction as early as last week, as conferences began releasing updated schedules and NCAA president Mark Emmert discussed publicly the protocols being taken in order to keep students and coaches safe.

A few short days later, and those feelings of optimism have grown into fears that fans won’t be seeing players on the gridiron at all come September. But what exactly could it mean for the Gamecocks, the SEC, and college football as a whole?


OneClass revealed a study back in June highlighting the financial impact of a lost 2020 college football season. The study broke down the financial losses into categories, and estimated that Power Five schools could lose an average of $62 million, with ticket sales, media and sponsorship revenues, and annual NCAA disbursements being the main sources of lost income.

"Game Attendance: Athletics departments could be facing reduced or eliminated ticket revenue, not to mention the revenue lost from food and merch. One Ohio State model found that social distancing could be implemented in their 100,000-seat stadium to hold a crowd of about 20,000 to 22,000 fans."

"College Budgets: There’s also predictions that college budgets will be slashed because of lower student enrollment, dwindling donations, and reduced endowment drawdown. This would reduce the available funds that schools would distribute to athletics departments."

"Media and Sponsorship Revenue: An MMR deal for a college athletic department typically bundles broadcast deals, coach appearances, sponsorships, and shoe-and-apparel contracts. Football accounts for about 85 percent of the value at each school, and disruption would have wide-reaching effects."

"NCAA Disbursements: If games aren’t played, or are played differently, the NCAA could reduce the amount of money that is distributed to each school."

Athletic departments have been struggling since March, which has led to tough administrative decisions from conference and NCAA officials. Should the other Power Five conferences follow the Big 10’s suit, they’ll be leaving money on the table in a year where financial losses are beginning to pile up.


Players will feel the impacts of the cancellation, too. Particularly, those upperclassmen that are looking to prove their worth to those at the next level. Jump back to just last year. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was viewed as a late-round NFL project, having only one season of college football under his belt following a transfer from Ohio State. Fast forward one season, and he’s the Heisman trophy winner and the first overall choice of the 2021 NFL draft.

Javon Kinlaw is another name, and one that has direct ties to the Gamecocks. Prior to his senior season, hopes of being a first-round draft pick were slim, but his all-American performance in 2019 boosted him up the NFL draft boards.

As rumors began to swirl Sunday night about the possible cancellation of the season, players started uniting on social media under the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. Ryan Hilinski, Trevor Lawrence, and others voiced their intent to play this fall. The Big 10 didn’t take those views into consideration, but maybe the SEC, ACC, and remaining Power Five conferences will.


Safety has been at the root of the issue, and for good reason, as the Coronavirus is transmitted easily between individuals in close proximities. In the sport of football, it’s impossible for players to distance, as physical contact is prevalent on every single play. As for fans, gathering at stadiums poses risk to all in attendance.

But is cancelling football altogether really the solution? In most cases, players and staff are in a safer environment that calls for frequent testing and mandatory social distancing. Removing them from this environment may actually increase their chances of contracting the virus.

And the season can go on with limited attendance, or even no attendance at all. Obviously, this will hurt ticket sales, but universities could still pocket revenues through television deals and other media exposure.


For now, we wait and see. The Big 10 is out, and the PAC 12 is expected to follow, though commissioner Larry Scott hasn’t yet confirmed that decision. So that leaves the ACC, Big 12, and SEC.

In a recent report from the Dan Patrick Show, it appears that the SEC is holding out on making a decision in an attempt to convince the remaining two conferences to join them in playing the 2020 season. The ACC and Big 12 are still on the fence about how to move forward.

It will be an interesting week to watch as the future of this season hangs in the balance. Fans and schools alike took a hit with the Big 10’s decision, but we’ll see how the other Power Five conferences choose to tackle the issue.