MOREHEAD Corey Fipps answered the question with the force of a blindside quarterback sack.
Kentucky Christian University's head football coach and athletic director was asked Monday whether he would save money by eliminating some of the Knights' 17 teams. His answer was brief and blunt.
“Absolutely not,” Fipps said. “Absolutely not.”
Morehead State University AD Jaime Gordon, meanwhile, took an extra 39 words to say the same thing about the Eagles' 14 squads.
“That is definitely not what we are looking to do,” Gordon said. “There are clearly some challenges ahead of us … The hard thing is that right now we don't know the impact this will have; we're hopeful we'll be back in school come fall.
“… Eliminating sports is something you can't go back and fix.”
The first novel coronavirus-related cuts began earlier this month, when the University of Cincinnati dropped men's soccer and Old Dominion University discontinued wrestling. Locally, residential summer sports camps at both schools are either gone or in jeopardy.
The obvious worry: men and women who run college football programs from Washington State to Kansas State to Florida State – members of the Power Five conferences (Big XII, Big 10, Atlantic Coast, Southeastern and Pac 12) fret over football revenues. They're worried about partial schedules, playing in the fall, spring or not at all, and whether fans will be allowed to fill stadiums.
“I'm pretty optimistic at this point of a full (football) schedule,” MSU head coach Rob Tenyer said. “ … I'll think we'll have to get into, really, probably end of May, early June until we get something really concrete.”
Morehead State football is a non-scholarship sport. (MSU is a member of the Pioneer Football League and the Ohio Valley Conference for everything else.) Gordon said the NCAA eliminating the men's and women's basketball tournaments in March was a greater wallop to the wallet.
“That, for us, is about a $300,000 drop,” Gordon said.
Like Morehead State, KCU, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II member, competes in two conferences – the Mid-South football and the Appalachian Athletic for the rest. Both groups allow partial scholarships.
Another similarity: Travel is one of the two biggest expenses.
Morehead State's 2019 football schedule included round trips to: the University of San Diego (about 4,400 miles), Valparaiso University (710) in Indiana, Illinois State (776 miles to Normal, Illinois), Murray State (660 miles), Jacksonville University (1,426) and Drake University (1,282 to Des Moines, Iowa).
This year football itinerary tentatively calls for journeys to Marist College (1,410 miles to Poughkeepsie, New York) and a Sept. 19 excursion to the University of Montana (3,908 miles to Missoula).
Tenyer is at least glad 2020 recruiting mostly ended before COVID-19 invaded, and he says he's installed about half the playbook. “What we've done is really focus on '21 and '22,” he said. “We've already got over 200 offers out for 2021; at this point last year, we had about 80.”
KCU's football bus rides are not as lengthy. The Knights travel to Ave Maria University in Florida (a nearly 15-hour drive each way) Sept. 19 and two trips to Georgia – Point University in West Point, near the Alabama border, and Rinehardt University in Waleska, not quite 50 miles north-northwest of Atlanta.
One of the myriad of 2020-21 proposals calls for every sport to be played next spring. Fipps said it wouldn't work at KCU.
I just don't think we have the resources in terms of game-day operations to try to force it all in …,” Fipps said. “I think we'll potentially have abbreviated schedules in the fall.
Fipps said KCU is considering additional programs: e-sports, tennis, lacrosse, wrestling, men's volleyball.
“We won't have any of those this fall,” he said. “Last year we added track and field and bass fishing; both are enrollment drivers for us.”
Fipps says the next 21 days will determine what happens this fall, Gordon believes it will take four to six weeks. Tenyer likes MSU's chances for a 12-game schedule.
Said Tenyer: “I think we'll have to get into, really, probably end of May, early June until we get something really concrete.”