The University of Louisville athletic department will follow the university’s lead and enact furloughs for employees beginning today, as it tries to weather the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, athletic director Vince Tyra outlined cost-cutting measures within the department, including coaches taking 10 percent pay cuts, budget cuts to individual sports which Tyra said Sunday could amount to 15 percent, freezes on non-essential travel and hiring and, now, furloughs or other employee reductions.
As reported by WDRB in Louisville, U of L associate athletics director for finance Jeff Spoelker said that the department anticipates generating less revenue than projected, though how much less remains to be seen as the school awaits its final disbursement from the Atlantic Coast Conference and a couple of other outside payments.
U of L’s expenses through the end of March were only $1.5 million more than they were a year ago, largely thanks to the almost $2 million expense of making a bowl game, something few anticipated last summer, WDRB reported.
Spoelker said that the university made significant cuts in anticipation of those revenue shortfalls and added expenses, and expects to finish the year “in a very strong financial position, even if we head into a very uncertain 2020-21.”
The department still must plan for what Tyra called the “worst-case scenario” of canceling the football season, which would be financially catastrophic to most athletic departments. He doesn’t see that happening, but Tyra also said he doesn’t see football games happening without fans, nor does he want to see that.
Tyra has basically said that if it’s not safe for fans to attend, that the sport would be sending the wrong message by playing games where students are exposed. On Monday, he said that testing players was one thing, “but do you test them every week or before every practice? There’s a lot to consider.”
For now, U of L is considering what measures it might take to allow for social distancing at entry gates and elsewhere if football were to go on, though he acknowledged, “We don’t have the ability to social distance in a stadium,” he said.
Sports Business Daily, citing the Louisville Courier-Journal, reported that Tyra himself is "taking a 10 percent reduction along with the rest of his senior staff members."