BY GERARD WELLBROCK
While everyone from administrators to fans are hopeful for the return of college athletics this fall, the NCAA and its member institutions are making contingency plans should that not be the case.
“We’re working as if everything is going to be normal in the fall and keeping our fingers crossed that it will,” said Fort Hays State Athletic Director Curtis Hammeke.
And while Fort Hays State is moving forward like everything will go on as scheduled, Hammeke knows there is no guarantee seasons will start on time or be played in their entirety. He said there has been some talk of reduced or modified schedules at the Division II level for the upcoming 2020-21 academic year.
“Certainly, there’s financial ramifications involved, and that’s going to eventually affect what the schedules look like,” Hammeke said. “We’re still hoping everything stays as planned, but I do see some momentum gaining for some reduced or modified schedules.”
Member institutions have received surveys from the NCAA concerning a possible reduction in the number of games played in the 2020-21 academic year. Schools are being asked how they feel about reductions ranging anywhere from 10 percent to more than 20 percent. Hammeke said Memorial Day is target date for decisions concerning the fall.
FHSU has altered all of the summer sports camps. Some have been canceled, and others have been moved to July and will only be day camps, eliminating the use of dormitories.
Both KU and K-State have announced in recent weeks that their football and basketball coaches — along with some high-ranking athletic department administrators — have taken pay cuts to help offset budget deficits. That has not been the case at Fort Hays State, which works with a significantly smaller budget.
“I’m very grateful that we haven’t gotten into staff reductions and furloughs,” Hammeke said. “Our people have been able to keep working from home, continue the recruiting process, continuing the preparations for next year.”
The athletic department had to move the annual Jim and Blake McGuire Scholarship Golf Tournament, which was scheduled for mid-April, to September. The next big event on the calendar is the Tiger Auction and Dinner. Hammeke said, as of now, they are planning to hold the event as scheduled.
“Here we are in a situation where the auction will be more important than ever at a time where a lot of people will be more handcuffed then ever in terms of being able to help with that,” Hammeke said.
“We’re going to have some negative funding sources from the state level and potentially from student fees if our enrollment is not as high on campus. And then if you start reducing these schedules and you start taking away revenue from ticket sales and concessions and marketing and advertising — all of those things we utilize to help reach our budget.”