The American economic boom of the last decade has gone hand-in-hand with a fundamental change in the financial reach of college athletics. Beyond the obvious growth areas like television revenue and the College Football Playoff, which helped fuel an exponential rise in coaching salaries, athletic departments became much more sophisticated at getting their fans to part with large amounts of money.  

As the stock market roared and businesses thrived, schools climbed over each other to promote hotshot fundraisers into athletic director jobs, launch eight- and nine-figure facilities projects, endow coaching positions and reorient their stadiums toward amenities and premium experiences.

But the looming economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has raised a question that athletic departments of all sizes are scrambling to assess: Is the party over?