By Anne M. Peterson | Associated Press
The return of football isn’t likely to make a dramatic dent in the losses athletic departments across the Pac-12 will ultimately incur because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Faced with large budget shortfalls, most schools in the league have already resorted to layoffs, furloughs and cutting some sports entirely.
Washington State’s athletic department will cut 10 full-time jobs and top coaches will take a voluntary 15 percent pay cut to help deal with budget problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Athletic director Pat Chun, football coach Nick Rolovich and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith are taking the 15 percent pay cuts. Women’s basketball coach Kamie Ethridge will take a 12.5 percent salary reduction.
Every other head coach, assistant coach and contracted staff member has been asked, or mandated, to take a 10 percent salary reduction, the Pac-12 school said.
Chun said the goal is to cut into a $30 million loss in athletic department revenue this fall because of the pandemic. Washington State was already facing financial woes before COVID-19. The athletic department has a debt of about $100 million from the construction of a football operations building, stadium upgrades and other spending in the past decade.
The University of Washington Athletics Department announced more cuts Thursday in order to save money due to the ongoing pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department’s “additional cost-saving measures” include eliminating 16 positions, temporary furloughs and full-time employment reductions for 35 staffers.
The eliminated positions include filled and vacation positions, according to the department.
In June, UW Athletics announced department-wide furloughs for 156 professional and classified union staff and voluntary salary reductions for all contract staff.
All head coaches committed to a 5 percent voluntary salary reduction, while Director of Athletics Jen Cohen, Head Football Coach Jimmy Lake and men’s basketball coach Mike Hopkins waived all incentive payments for the upcoming year in addition to pledging major gifts to the department.
The pandemic shut down sports in March, including the NCAA basketball tournaments. With no March Madness, the NCAA was short $375 million in the money scheduled to be distributed to its member schools, which were already facing questions about enrollment levels and tuition shortfalls.
A deal with Quidel, a California-based diagnostic healthcare manufacturer, for a daily rapid-results coronavirus testing program helped put the football season — by far the biggest revenue generator in college sports — back on track.
The league will open a seven-game, conference-only football season Nov. 7.
Oregon President Michael Schill, chairman of the Pac-12 CEO group, echoed that the return of football is by no means going to make up the shortfall.
“The losses that our schools are encountering — particularly in our athletic department — are huge. The amount of money that will be paid as a result of going back to play is tiny in comparison to the losses,” Schill said.
The most dramatic action was taken by Stanford, which is discontinuing 11 varsity sports programs at the end of the 2020-21 academic year, including men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling.
At Oregon State, the athletic department laid off nearly two dozen employees in June because of the hit the school was taking without football. Those employees won’t likely be rehired, athletic director Scott Barnes said.
He said possible television revenue looked healthy, but it’s still uncertain how it will all shake out.
“I’ll tell you this, that as it relates to television, we’re close to being able to max out with the games we’re playing — not quite there, but very close to the max for the ESPN/Fox dollars based on the schedule that we’re looking at,” Barnes said. “Obviously, there’s all sorts of revenue gaps because we’re not going to have fans, we’re not going to have concessions, parking, donations. All that, I haven’t put a pencil to it.”