University of Utah athletic director Mark Harlan announced Friday that his entire department, including himself, will be subject to staggered furloughs throughout 2020 ranging in length from one to eight weeks to help counter revenue losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've had to make some tough decisions because you can't wait for what might not happen," Harlan told ESPN 700 host Bill Riley, as reported by ESPN.
The decision comes with the department facing a financial shortfall that Harlan previously estimated could range from $50 million to $60 million. He and head coaches will furlough for two weeks, but it's not clear when those will take place.
"Anyone who works in the department is going to be furloughed for some period of time, and that's hard," he said. "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."
Despite the news about the furloughs, Harlan expressed optimism about the Pac-12's ability to resume football after the conference struck a deal to make daily testing for COVID-19 possible through a deal with Quidel Corporation, a manufacturer of FDA-approved rapid tests. Last month, the conference announced that it was postponing all competitive sports through the calendar year, citing the need for "rapid point of care tests" as part of its decision.