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Collegiate athletic departments rolling back salaries for staff

The coronavirus might hit intercollegiate athletics harder than any sport, and the non-profits that operate teams are cutting costs already. We break down the latest news from

Louisville Athletic Director Vince Tyra Introduces Chris Mack as Men’s Basketball Coach

April 20th: We’re updating this article to add other schools that have staff taking voluntary cuts, or mandatory ones issued by the institution.

We could be looking at a completely new revenue model for college sports following the novel coronavirus pandemic, and intercollegiate athletic departments have already begun tightening their belts ahead of the huge gap in revenue that’s forthcoming.

Iowa State Cyclones

For the Iowa State Cyclones, it means the entire department agreed to a “one-year, temporary pay reduction for athletics department coaches and certain staff.” That will save more than $3 million from department coffers, and add another $1 million for bonuses due to a “temporary suspension” of bonuses that will not be given out either.

These actions will help us address the $5M shortfall that we face with the cancellation of the NCAA and Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournaments. We can now turn our attention to solving many other issues in the coming months. It was also important to us to provide our loyal ticket holders and donors some relief in regards to ticket prices and donations.

Although we could have passed on implementing these difficult decisions today and simply hoped for things to improve, we felt it was wise to act now.

Iowa State is certainly not one of the wealthier athletic departments in the Big XII, much less FBS as a whole, but they are still a Power Five school with the media rights that come with it. If they’re having to make cuts that are this severe already, you can imagine the downstream effects for smaller schools being even worse.

Louisville Cardinals

The Louisville Cardinals are in the same boat, and the “school’s head coaches in 21 sports as well as a dozen senior athletic administrators have agreed to a 10% salary reduction for the 2020-21 academic year.” Combined with the forfeiture of some bonuses, it’s expected to save the Cardinals as much as $1.75 million.

UL could have probably gotten through this easier, but the recent spate of chaos and bad decisions before Vince Tyra’s arrival have made things more difficult.

Tyra said that the athletic department’s reserve fund also had been used extensively in recent years to pay a contract buyout of $14 million to football coach Bobby Petrino, a settlement of $4.5 to former athletic director Tom Jurich, more than $4 million for Mack’s buyout at Xavier and legal expenses associated with an NCAA investigation of the U of L men’s basketball program.

Syracuse Orange

The AD John Wildhack, along with men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, football coach Dino Babers, and lacrosse coach John Desko have all agreed to 10% salary cuts.

Senior Leadership Compensation Reductions: Each of the three of us (ed: chancellor, provost, and CFO) will volunteer a 10 percent reduction in compensation for fiscal year 2021, as will members of the Chancellor’s Council (including vice chancellors, senior vice presidents, and deans) and our athletics director and coaches in football, basketball, and lacrosse. The funds generated through this measure will be specifically reallocated to support students, faculty, and staff who are particularly impacted by the current situation.

Kansas Jayhawks

KU officials both inside and outside of athletics are taking at 10% cut as the state looks to make up about $635 million in lost revenue.

Kansas State University

The Wildcats are in the same boat as their in-state brethren, and have implemented their own cuts as well.

The goal for all these athletic directors and staff is to keep as many people employed as possible while not cutting any sports. Old Dominion has already cut wrestling, and they won’t be the last to do some belt-tightening via elimination of some teams.

It’s an awkward time for all athletic departments, and unfortunately it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And if there’s no football in the fall of this year, some of these eight-and-nine figure operations are going to be put in extreme peril.