While sports organizations such as the NCAA and individual collegiate athletic departments are taking steps to help weather the financial storm caused by COVID-19, schools may be forced to take novel steps in order to save their athletics budgets.
Forbes reports that in past times of hardship, cash-strapped athletic departments have been able to rely on university dollars to help balance budgets. However, that option might be restricted in the era of coronavirus, when schools themselves are taking an unprecedented financial hit.
Between falling revenues from state taxes and increased healthcare costs, Forbes suggests that colleges could be feeling a financial pinch that makes them less likely to provide additional resources to an athletic department.
“If they’re in (the) red and running financial deficits, frankly, state policymakers aren’t going to be sympathetic to that,” Scott Pattison, former executive director of the National Governors Association told Forbes’ Karen Weaver. “What I mean by that is, they’re basically going to say, ‘sorry, that’s not our problem,’ and I think that’s important to be aware of.
“This is a shame for the smaller universities that have less funding, and that don’t have big-time athletics programs,” Pattison added.
The possibility of additional expenses is also a concern, as student-athletes in spring sports whose seasons were impacted by coronavirus will be allowed additional eligibility — for schools that can afford it.
Meanwhile, some schools are turning to furloughs, layoffs and pay cuts for athletics staff to help staunch the bleeding. Washington State University was one of the latest programs to announce such measures, as its men’s basketball coach, football coach and athletic director took a five percent salary reduction through the 2020-21 academic year, and all coaches voluntarily will forego bonuses through the same time period.