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Assistant professor quoted on college football financial losses

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With football season fast approaching, the financial impact of a cut-back season could be staggering.

However, it's still too early to know exactly how much money could disappear due to changes caused by the pandemic, said Steven Salaga, an assistant professor in the UGA Mary Frances Early College of Education.

"How much revenue is actually lost is going to depend on how many games are played this year and whether or not there are fans in attendance," Salaga told the Georgia Recorder. "A total loss of the season is obviously the worst-case scenario, assuming there is a season in 2021. Programs like UGA and Georgia Tech are best-prepared financially to handle this. Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs such as Georgia Southern and Georgia State rely more heavily on institutional support."

According to the article, UGA football generated more than $176 million in 2018, while Georgia Tech brought in more than $91 million. Football programs are often the biggest moneymakers on college campuses and help fund other athletic programs like tennis, rowing, swimming and wrestling, which often do not generate enough funds to sustain themselves.

To balance out potential financial losses, some business owners are hoping that the money locals normally spend during gameday weekends will be spent more consistently during the weekdays instead. According to Salaga, research shows that this optimism might be justified.

"You have people that come to town and spend money at bars and restaurants, but then much of the local population that would have been doing the same thing on a normal weekend is now not doing so because they want to avoid the out-of-town visitors," said Salaga, who teaches in the College's department of kinesiology. "To be fair, there is some limited work by non-partisan economists that shows modest increases in taxable sales revenues tied to college football. Overall, a lost season may hurt local businesses, but any negative impacts are not as large as one may think."

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