The UConn Huskies have become the first FBS program to cancel football. The Huskies are an independent since the Big East does not have concussion ball in the conference. Head Coach Randy Edsall said, per ESPN, “I hear people saying that because we’re independent we are able to do this. Let me just say one thing. If I was a head coach in a conference, at a Power Five conference or a Group of Five conference, I would be saying the same thing. I’d be doing the same thing. Because these young men’s lives are more important than money. They’re more important than money. I’m just glad we made the right decision.”
UConn’s football team isn’t good, to be generous, but this is still a significant decision. The UConn sporting department isn’t in a good place financially and already owes the AAC $17 million in fees for leaving. Add in a paltry $2.7 million from donors and $2.4 million from football gate receipts and the picture for a school that receives nearly 50% of its revenue for sports from “institutional support” becomes less rosy. Canceling anything that brings in revenue becomes a serious decision.
It’s also a decision that wasn’t entirely up to the Huskies. Four games were already gone due other conferences canceling non-conference play and obviously more are still in question. Connecticut governor Ned Lamont has also put in place a 14 day quarantine for visitors coming from states with high rates of coronavirus positive tests. According to the UConn Blog, that encompasses another 34 states and all but two more of the Huskies opponents.
The big concern for Xavier fans is what this means for basketball. Included in the ESPN article is the cryptic line, “UConn said it would consult the Big East before making a decision about other fall sports.” As of right now, it doesn’t seem like a lot is going to change in terms of the virus between now and basketball season. Rates certainly aren’t significantly declining, and that’s before school is even back in session. If the Connecticut governor holds that same line, basketball season will also be in serious doubt. The Huskies can ill afford to lose more money, so they are likely to do everything they can to get the games in, but this is yet another domino that has tipped in the wrong direction.