Virginia Athletics announced Friday that a number of employees have voluntarily taken salary reductions for the remainder of the calendar year. These employees include Athletics Director Carla Williams, all 20 head coaches and 51 assistant coaches and additional staff.
"The shared sacrifices of our coaches and staff will help us address financial shortfalls during this difficult time," Williams said in the press release. "Our hearts go out to those who are suffering and to those who have lost loved ones."
According to Jim Daves, assistant athletics director for media relations, salaries were reduced by either five or ten percent, depending on the employee’s annual salary level.
Virginia Athletics asked the staff to participate in salary reductions in mid-April as the athletics department looks to implement cost-saving measures in response to financial challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fiscal year 2019, the athletics department spent a total of $44.6 million on compensation for coaches and administrative and support staff, which represented 39.6 percent of all 2019 operating expenses.
With this decision, Virginia follows the lead of other ACC schools, including Louisville, whose coaches and athletics director, as well as 12 senior administrative staff members, all took pay cuts recently. Louisville Athletics Director Vince Tyra estimates total savings from its salary reductions to be $1.75 million. Outside the conference, Iowa State’s entire athletics department was hit with a 10 percent salary cut.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, athletics activities in the United States have been halted since mid-March. The impact on college athletics, including Virginia, has been significant. After the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was canceled, the NCAA announced that it will only give 37.5 percent of the $600 million the organization was planning to distribute to Division I schools. For ACC schools, that translates to $2 million to $2.3 million less than what they were originally expecting.
Virginia Athletics’ announcement comes at a time where there is still uncertainty surrounding the fate of the 2020 college football season. The loss of football — the most financially substantive sport in the country — would be devastating for all schools. For Virginia, in fiscal year 2019, football directly accounted for $32 million — or 29.4 percent — of total operating revenues. Many other significant revenue streams — private contributions, media rights and sponsorships — are also indirectly linked to Virginia football’s popularity.
Forseeing the need for future budget cuts, other colleges’ athletics departments have already taken steps beyond salary reductions. Cincinnati recently dropped its men’s soccer team and Old Dominion cut its wrestling program. It’s yet to be seen whether Virginia Athletics — which had an operating deficit of $2.4 million in fiscal year 2019 — will have to take similar measures.
The salary cuts within the athletics department parallel decisions being made across the University to mitigate financial losses. The University’s executive leadership team — including University President Jim Ryan and Provost Liz Magill — has taken a 10 percent salary cut, and the University Health System has also announced salary reductions and employee furloughs.