Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork said Tuesday that his department will know within the “next several weeks” how many seniors in spring sports will be returning for another season.
It could cost the Aggies more than a half-million dollars in scholarship costs if they all said yes.
In an unprecedented move Monday, the NCAA basically allowed all spring sport athletes, including seniors, a redshirt season. The decision came two weeks after the NCAA shut down all sports to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Bjork said if all seniors returned, the scholarship costs would be an extra $565,000. but he doesn’t anticipate everyone coming back.
“The semester doesn’t end until the middle of May, and so we have a little bit of time to work on this,” Bjork said. “And so that’s what’ll happen. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll have a plan, we’ll work on it. The coaches will formulate what they think is best for their programs.
“We’ll look at the financial impact,” Bjork said. “We’ll look at the the student-athlete impact, and then make the right decisions. There’ll be some athletes that we maybe offer to come back that decide not to, because of their situation. And so it’s going to be case by case and everything will unfold, you know, over the next several weeks.”
Bjork said the Aggies have not made contingency plans, as yet, on what would happen if social-distancing requirements extended through the summer and into the fall, forcing the postponement or cancellation of football.
The loss of football would gut the Aggies financially. The same would be true for all other Power Five schools.
“You know, our budget has been public record, so people can look at how much we bring in and ticket sales and football and donations in football,” he said. “It’s the majority of our athletic budget. So if our operating budget is in the $155, or $160 million range, it’s a majority of that budget.
“So, football, like I said at the beginning of all this, everything rises and falls on football. So it’s monumental. But we really haven’t mapped that out. We were being optimistic with everything.
“We think the next 30 days and this whole thing is very critical based on the medical experts that we’re listening to and talking to. And so we all need to practice our distancing like we’re doing here today, and continue this and then we want to plan for the fall and kick off the season.”
On Monday, the SEC allowed its athletes two hours of video study a week. There still can be no in-person contact between coaches, administrators and athletes. The league is set to reassess its guidelines in mid-April.