The University of Utah will furlough every employee in its athletic department, even athletic director Mark Harlan and its head coaches, according to KUTV’s Larry Curtis.
The athletic department has also reportedly eliminated some positions and suspended all performance bonuses indefinitely. The drastic steps are the latest sign of the massive financial ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic being felt in the world of college sports.
A statement from Harlan, via KUTV:
"As I have previously shared, the financial challenges that we are facing at Utah has led us to make difficult—but necessary—decisions to mitigate the financial impacts of the pandemic. These changes include furloughs of various lengths for every Department employee—including me, our executive cabinet and our head and assistant coaches. In addition, in some select cases, we have also eliminated positions through reductions in force. We also have eliminated all performance bonuses until further notice.
“These decisions were not based on employee performance, but rather reflect the significant financial shortfall we face as well as the realities of the postponement of fall sports competition. We are prioritizing the areas of our athletics operations that directly support our student-athletes."
Every athletic department in the country has been experiencing varying degrees of financial pain, but Utah is in a particularly bad spot as a football-focused school in a power conference that just canceled its football season. The Pac-12 has indicated a belated season could be coming after a deal for rapid COVID-19 tests, but the Utes’ bills aren’t going to wait for that.
Utah appears to be the only Power 5 program to institute such drastic cuts so far, but you have to wonder how many programs could eventually join them.
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