FLORENCE, Ala. – Until we hear otherwise, football will be played in the fall as normal.
Football is one of the biggest sources of income for a University, but what if there aren’t fans in the stands or games played at all? What will be the last affect?
WHNT News 19 caught up with University of North Alabama athletic director Mark Linder to discuss the economic impact that the Lions’ football season has and what it could be like if the season didn’t happen like normal.
Olivia Whitmire “As an athletic director, what have you heard if anything so far as far as football season starting on time?”
Mark Linder “I think the month of May is going to be really critical for all of us to see what happens if there’s a resurgence, you know if social distancing does flatten the curve and keep it flat. What access we have to testing, you know and and social distancing and cleanliness, and all that. I think the month of May is just going to be a time frame we can look at that information and hopefully make great decisions to get back to normal as soon as possible.”
Olivia Whitmire “Looking at football, especially down here in the south, it’s a huge source of revenue for universities like UNA. Walk me through what kind of an economic impact the university’s football team brings to the city of Florence and the area during a regular season.”
Mark Linder “We know that the University of North Alabama brings right around $316 million of annual resources to the Shoals area. Football being a piece of that, you know, we’re in anywhere between seven to $10 million a year, just around our five home football games and so we know it has a tremendous effect, not only on our university but also our community.”
Olivia Whitmire “Let’s say the time comes where the NCAA says we can start football season on time, but there can’t be fans in the stands. What kind of not only economic impact would that have on UNA but just as far as an atmosphere goes what kind of a difference would that be?”
Mark Linder “That would be really different for all of us right? There’s nothing like being at the game if you’re a sports fan and there’s nothing like playing the game in front of a lot of fans and so I hope that we’re able to get to some sort of normalcy soon, because I think that the fans and their enjoyment of the game, and the student athletes and their enjoyment of the game, it’s just better when they’re both together.”
Olivia Whitmire “If we look at UNA and we look at the potential of not having a football season, would that impact any of the other athletic departments any of the other sports on campus by not having that revenue come in?”
Mark Linder “Just looking at the Jacksonville State home football game, you’re looking at the Virginia Tech game, you’re looking at the BYU game not being played. Those three games could generate close to a million a little bit over a million dollars for the University of North Alabama. That would have a tremendous impact on our budget it would definitely have an impact on us and our ability to do what we want to do and to perform at a high level.”