With the Big Ten seemingly on the verge of officially canceling football as well as all fall sports, Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman said the chance of playing football in the spring is a “viable option.”
Speaking Monday during a videoconference with the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Economic Club, Beekman didn’t confirm whether the Big Ten was set to cancel the fall season – sources told The Detroit News the official announcement could come by Tuesday – but indicated playing after the first of the year was possible.
“In one word, yes, I do think it’s a viable option,” Beekman said.
While the Power Five conferences grappled with the next move during the COVID-19 pandemic and players and coaches spoke out about saving the season, sources told The News over the weekend that Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren preferred a spring season.
It’s one possibility, Beekman said, as the conference contemplates what it will do with all sports.
“If we can give our young people the opportunity to play their sport this year in whatever fall or winter or spring sport it might be, my hope would be that we’re able to postpone and not cancel,” Beekman said. “My hope would be that we look at opportunities for participation in the spring, should it be necessary to do so.
“Certainly, we’ve done some of that creative thinking already in the event that something does happen. I think we’ve got plans A through G, H, or I, and so if plan A doesn’t work then we go to B to C to D and so on and try and provide every opportunity for our young people to participate in a way that’s safe and healthy for them.”
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If football is not played in the fall for spring, Michigan State will be dealing with a significant financial crunch. Beekman said the athletic department could lose up to $85 million, crippling the budget and forcing nearly every other sport to cease operations.
“There’s roughly $85 million in lost revenue potential if we don’t play football,” Beekman said. “At this point, we have modeled some fairly severe budget reductions, that probably if we don’t play football, we would not be playing most other, maybe all other, sports. Men’s basketball generates revenue, so it I think becomes an open question. Those decisions are still pending.”
Michigan State plays 24 sports and Beekman said cutting programs is a “last resort.”