Indiana’s athletic department announced furloughs and hour reductions as a means to offset losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Friday afternoon release, IU said the department’s staff, which includes coaches, will be taking at least one two-week, unpaid furlough between October 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. Any coaching furloughs would have to be on a voluntary basis for contractural reasons.
Other staff members whose “positions have been most directly impacted by the lack of sporting events this fall” will have their work hours reduced to “either every other week (50%) or, in some cases, in full (100%),” the release said. That group does not include coaches.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IU Athletics has not participated in an intercollegiate athletic event in five and a half months, which necessitated tough decisions regarding our staff,” IU athletic director Scott Dolson said in a statement. “Throughout this process, we have prioritized our staff, and the decision to ask everyone to share the burden was made to minimize the number of employees who would be impacted to a much more significant degree.
“With that said, this remains a very difficult day for our entire IU Athletics family, who devote their time, efforts and energies to supporting our students and representing our department and Indiana University in a first-class way.”
While there is a possibility the Big Ten could kick off a football season in early 2021, or even possibly by Thanksgiving, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, going without a revenue-generating sport for a sustained period of time will hurt the bottomline. In the last fiscal year, IU football was responsible for bringing in $52.7 million in operating revenues, including $32.7 million from media rights and another $6.8 million in ticket sales.
In total, IU’s athletic department had revenues of $127.8 million in the 2019 fiscal year.
On top of the loss of a fall football season, Big Ten athletic departments and others were already suffering from the loss of last season’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
In June, an internal memo from IU’s athletics leadership estimated the department needed to shed 10 percent of its expected costs — about $11.8 million — to offset a projected revenue shortfall. Around that time, IU instituted some initial cost-cutting measures, including freezes on bonus pay, salary increases, and hiring.
As part of that round, Dolson, IU football coach Tom Allen, and IU men’s basketball coach Archie Miller donated 10% of their salary back to the department, saving about $1 million. Also, as of Aug. 3, the athletic department was employing 26 fewer people than on that date in 2019, and, of those, 16 were full-time positions that would not be replaced.
Once the football season was postponed, IU, like every school without a source of athletics revenue, was forced to make deeper cuts. For instance, Purdue announced earlier this week it was instituting furloughs and eliminating positions. Pay cuts would be as high as 40%, and the department’s top earners — including its football and men’s and women’s basketball coaches and athletic director Mike Bobinski — would take a 20% cut in pay and forgo incentive compensation for a year.
IU may not be done cutting, though. The release referenced previous cost-saving measures, as well as the salary givebacks by Dolson, Miller, and Allen, and added, “IU Athletics is continuing to explore additional financial mitigation measures as well.”