The University of Utah is set to furlough its entire athletic department due to ongoing financial struggles in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most universities across the nation are facing similar financial hardships. The Pac-12 in particular made the decision to delay fall sports until early next year. As a result, universities are expected to be in the red financially by the end of 2020.
To help offset costs and stay afloat, the University of Utah is taking matters into its own hands. The school is set to furlough its entire athletic department, including football head coach Kyle Whittingham, basketball head coach Larry Krystkowiak and athletic director Mark Harlan. No timeline has been released as to when athletic department furloughs will end.
Harlan recently admitted 2020’s dire circumstances could cost the athletic department and the University of Utah anywhere from $50-60 million this year. The furloughs are being issued in an effort to improve the department’s financial situation.
All staff and coaches will furlough a minimum of 1 week to a maximum of 8 weeks.Head coaches, myself and cabinet will furlough for 2 weeks. We are fully operational as we stagger the schedule through Jan 1. Sharing this sacrifice as a team allows us to emerge stronger than ever.
— Mark Harlan (@MarkHarlan_AD) September 5, 2020
“Anyone who works in the department is going to be furloughed for some period of time, and that’s hard,” Harlan said, via ESPN. “But we thought collectively as a group that if we all do this together, it would minimize. We’ve had to lay off some folks in terms of job eliminations and that’s been really hard. It’s not about the people’s performance; it’s just the time and the struggle that we’re in. We’ve eliminated bonuses. We’ve done the things that make sense to what people would expect us to do.”
Other Pac-12 programs – and even Big Ten programs – may be forced to make similar decisions in coming months, as neither league is set to play football, the biggest money maker for most FBS athletic departments, this fall.
For now, the Pac-12 isn’t planning on playing football until early next year. Some speculate those plans could change, though.
The conference’s recent announcement – detailing upcoming daily COVID-19 rapid testing – could allow the Pac-12 to play the 2020 season earlier than January.