As the University of Utah athletic department faces a potential loss of $60 million if no football is played this fiscal year, the reality of the situation is hitting those who work there.
Speaking on ESPN700 Friday afternoon, Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said a full department-wide furlough has been implemented. The furlough will include Harlan himself on down through his department, which includes two head coaches, Kyle Whittingham and Larry Krystkowiak, both making north of $3 million annually.
Harlan also noted there have been job eliminations inside the athletic department, but did not specify who or how many. Utah’s publicly-available athletics staff directory, which includes senior staff, medical personnel, equipment staff and digital media among the listed positions, is more than 200 people deep.
“As I have previously shared, the financial challenges that we are facing at Utah have led us to make difficult, but necessary decisions to mitigate the financial impacts of the pandemic,” Harlan said in a statement provided to The Salt Lake Tribune. “These changes include furloughs of various lengths for every department employee, including me, our executive cabinet and our head and assistant coaches. In addition, in some select cases, we have also eliminated positions through reductions in force. We also have eliminated all performance bonuses until further notice.”
Harlan took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to further clarify Utah’s situation. Furloughs will be a minimum of one week up to a maximum of eight weeks. Harlan, his senior staff and all head coaches will take two-week furloughs, but the department will be fully operational the entire time.
On Aug. 12, one day after the Pac-12 announced it would not contest a fall football season with all sports postponed until at least Jan. 1, Harlan said on a Zoom call with reporters that he was projecting a $50-60 million loss with no football in 2020.
That projection would be mitigated if the Pac-12 winds up playing football this winter or spring. Fresh optimism is abound there after Thursday’s announcement that the league will have access to rapid-response testing thanks to San Diego-based Quidel.
The $50-60 million projection came a month after Harlan revealed that he, Whittingham and Krystkowiak were among the “top earners” in the department opting to give money back.
“These decisions were not based on employee performance, but rather reflect the significant financial shortfall we face as well as the realities of the postponement of fall sports competition,” Harlan said. “We are prioritizing the areas of our athletics operations that directly support our student-athletes.”