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Minnesota Regents: Athletics Losses Could Hit $75M

Paul Steinbach

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents estimates the school's athletic department stands to lose at least $10 million due to the coronavirus pandemic and spring sports cancelations, and as much as $75 million if sports schedules are wiped out through the summer and fall.

As reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the board based the estimates on potential losses from ticket revenue, NCAA tournament and TV distributions, donations from boosters and other previously expected revenue.

Athletic director Mark Coyle and several Gophers head coaches and senior athletics administrators already have agreed to voluntary pay cuts of an unknown percentage, according to an athletics department spokesman, while university President Joan Gabel said in Tuesday’s board meeting she and members of her cabinet have taken a 10 percent salary reduction for the next fiscal year, joining almost 200 other senior leaders across the U’s five campuses in taking a pay cut equivalent to a weeklong furlough.

Coyle said in a statement he is evaluating the budget and will provide an update at the Regents’ meeting in May, giving what should be a detailed plan on how the department will handle any expected revenue shortfalls, the Star Tribune reported. “I have had several meetings with our head coaches, staff and the leadership of our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and conveyed to them that our budget will look different going forward,” Coyle said, adding, “It is also important to note that the models presented [Tuesday] reflect only potential lost revenue and do not take into consideration any expenses that would not be incurred in each scenario.”

A $75 million hit in revenue in a so-called “severe” scenario, meaning no home football games and other campus sporting events, would be down from the $130.5 million the department reported for the 2018-19 school year. The Gophers reported $129.5 million in expenses in that same fiscal year, though those would decrease without team travel, recruiting visits and event expenses.

The “moderate” outlook, a scenario where games resume in the fall with no fans in attendance, projects the Gophers could lose $30 million, the Star Tribune reported.

One thing the athletic department has already done is launch a special web page to help keep Gophers fans connected during the suspension of sports activity.

According to gogophers.com, fans visiting the Ski-U-Home page "can find links to classic Gopher games to watch or listen, updates from athletic director Mark Coyle and others, as well as links to hear the Golden Gopher Podcast along with video Gopher Talk interviews. Those who are utilizing video conferencing can spruce up their look with Gopher-branded virtual backgrounds, while there are also activities for kids and tips on how to stay fit at home. Fans of the Maroon and Gold can also use the Ski-U-Home page as a reference for best practices to stay healthy, how to support partners of Gopher athletics, and find out where they can next catch re-broadcasts of Minnesota games and events on television and over the internet."

The new page will be updated regularly with new content and information.

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