Nationwide Survey of Collegiate Athletic Directors Finds Academic Progress, Financial Uncertainty Among Top Concerns Stemming from Coronavirus

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Survey conducted by LEAD1 and Teamworks reveals plans, goals of more than 100 FBS athletics directors in light of coronavirus pandemic.

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"It is clear that the 100+ athletics directors who responded to our survey believe their number one priority is to maintain the highest levels of physical health, safety and academic progress for their student-athletes,” said Tom McMillen, President and CEO of LEAD1 Association.

The LEAD1 Association, which represents the athletics directors of the 130-member schools of the Football Bowl Subdivision, and Teamworks, the leading athlete engagement platform for collegiate and professional organizations, today announced the results of their joint “State of Athletics in the Face of Coronavirus” survey.

The survey polled LEAD1’s membership base of athletics directors on current issues in collegiate athletics, including student-athlete wellness, financial security and sacrifices, and strategic planning.

“In response to the unprecedented uncertainty across our industry, athletics directors have pointed to academic progress and mental wellness as two of their primary concerns for student-athletes,” said Zach Maurides, CEO and Founder of Teamworks. “There isn’t a playbook to help our student-athletes move past this challenging time, and these findings underline the importance – now more than ever – for teams to deeply engage with student-athletes to ensure they have the resources they need.”

The survey finds that the majority of the more than 100 FBS athletics directors who responded are seeing the strain on their student-athletes, with finances also top of mind for every department. While there was unity among the FBS in many areas, concerns about 2020-21 revenue streams illustrated key differences between Power Five and Group of Five ADs.

“We have entered into a period of uncertainty and uncharted territory in college athletics. Not only for athletics directors, but for student-athletes, coaches and administrators,” said Tom McMillen, President and CEO of LEAD1 Association. “We felt it necessary to capture the real-time concerns from our membership to best prepare them for what’s to come. It is clear that the 100+ athletics directors who responded to our survey believe their number one priority is to maintain the highest levels of physical health, safety and academic progress for their student-athletes.”

Below are key findings from the Teamworks/LEAD1 “State of Athletics in the Face of Coronavirus” survey.

Academic progress tops list of concerns:
89% of surveyed ADs included academic progress as one of their top three concerns in regard to their student-athletes over the next three months, with multiple ADs commenting that APR needs to be suspended.

Other key areas of focus include student-athlete mental health for nearly three-quarters of ADs and lack of access to academic and athletic resources while off-campus for more than half of ADs.

Financial uncertainty high:
Only 8% of ADs project a 30%+ decrease in revenue for 2019-20, but 35% are preparing for that steep of a drop for 2020-21. Football is the key variable still at play, given its tremendous impact on revenue.

“True worst case is no football in which case it will be much more than 30%.”

There was a clear difference between Power Five and Group of Five ADs in their responses to at-risk revenue streams for 2020-21. Most notably, the Power Five has loss of revenue from in-person events and conference distributions high on the list, compared to the Group of Five’s concerns about student fees and NCAA distributions.

Cost containment?
67% of FBS ADs think that collegiate athletics should find a way to collectively contain costs and limit current compensation, if legally possible.

“I think we need to make wise decisions now in order to support a sustainable model.”

Culture concerns:
Nearly 40% of ADs put morale and culture as their top concern over the next six months, other than financial sustainability. Fear of the unknown came in second, with 32%.

For more information about survey results, please contact Hannah Dewey (hannah@lead1a.com) and Marianne Schroer (mschroer@teamworks.com).

About the LEAD1 Association: LEAD1 represents the athletics directors of the 130 member universities of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Key to the LEAD1 mission are influencing how the rules of college sports are enacted and implemented, advocating for the future of college athletics, and providing various services to our member schools. For more information, please visit http://www.LEAD1Association.com.

About Teamworks: Teamworks is the leading athlete engagement platform, empowering more than 3,000 clients around the world to better connect and collaborate by simplifying their internal processes. Based in Durham, North Carolina, and founded in 2004, Teamworks continues to invest heavily in technology and expand the team to respond to the increasing customer demand. Organizations that depend on Teamworks to create a culture of communication and accountability include more than 2,000 NCAA Division I programs including every Autonomous Conference institution; professional teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS and EPL; collegiate and professional conferences; and national governing bodies. Visit http://www.teamworks.com for more information.

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