Athletics Director John Cohen said he believes Mississippi State is in the best possible financial situation for whatever happens with the 2020 college football season.
Cohen, along with the other 13 Southeastern Conference athletic directors met face-to-face on Monday to discuss options on football scheduling plans.
The Big Ten and the Pac 12 conferences already announced that they will be playing conference-only schedules. After Monday’s meeting, the SEC announced that it will continue business as usual and will take another look at how COVID-19 progresses in the coming weeks.
Cohen believes they made the right choice.
“You will not find better leadership than Greg Sankey, especially in the collegiate sports world,” Cohen said. “What we know is that more time is more information which means better decisions are going to be made. If we have extra time to get more information, that’s what we are going to do.”
Cohen said it’s extremely complicated to make changes to a schedule that is years in the making, but if the SEC leaders decide to change to a conference-only schedule, that could potentially mean the loss of up to four games for each football program.
In the meeting on Monday, options such as adding extra conference games or partnering with other conferences such as the Big 12 or the ACC to fill a non-conference slate were discussed.
If Mississippi State does lose those four games, that could ave a massive financial impact for the university. Cohen said the university is as prepared for that as it possibly could be.
He said from his time as a baseball player at MSU, that former ADs Larry Templeton, Greg Byrne and Scott Stricklin all committed to diverting savings for the purpose of a rainy day fund. Cohen has done the same.
“You never know what that rainy day is going to look like or what causes it, but I think it’s safe to say we are in the midst of some rainy days, …” Cohen said. “I think financially, we are in as good of a situation as we can be under these circumstances. If we don’t have a full schedule of football, it is going to have an impact, there’s no question about that.”
Cohen and the rest of the SEC athletics directors will continue to wait for more information on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and safety for students, student athletes and staff is the most important issue at the moment.
He believes there will be a more concise ability to make rash decisions with fall sports when the entire staff and student body is back on campus.
“I don’t think anybody can predict what is going to happen fully until our students come back to campus,” Cohen said. “And that’s not just going to effect our athletic department, it’s going to effect every phase of our university. I think having time to have the full effect of that, whether for better or worse for athletics, it is going to help our decision making.”