That determination will have a financial impact on athletic departments for years to come, said Willis Jones, an associate professor of higher education at the University of Kentucky.

“Schools will put off that decision until they have absolutely no other choice,” said Jones, who researches intercollegiate athletics. “Once there is one that’s brave enough and says ‘We can’t do this and still protect our student athletes,’ I think other schools will follow.”

That’s what happened in March after the Ivy League canceled its basketball championships to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. A few schools have recently scotched fall sports, including the Maine liberal arts college Bowdoin on Monday and the 13-member California Collegiate Athletic Association in May. Their decisions could embolden cancellations at larger schools, and at small schools where football is a big part of campus culture and is key to enrollment.