The coronavirus crisis hasn’t just prevented us from watching the Arizona Wildcats, it has put the UA athletic department in a major financial bind as it has seen several revenue streams evaporate ever since Pac-12 sports were canceled in March.
Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke addressed that Tuesday, penning a letter to UA fans and boosters. Three major takeaways from it are that:
- Arizona is expecting a $7.5 million revenue loss in this fiscal year, which “stems from a reduction in Pac-12 and NCAA revenues, other spring sport revenues, loss of ticket sales, as well as a decline in other revenue projections.” That $7.5 million figure may not seem that like much until you realize that the fiscal year usually ends in June not December.
- The UA projects it will cost $600,000 to bring senior spring student-athletes back for an another season, but Heeke says it “was absolutely the right thing to do.”
- The season ticket renewal deadline has been extended to June 1 and payment plans are being offered through August 1 and September 1. Fans are being offered a credit option for canceled spring sport season tickets that can be applied to tickets next season, or to your current Wildcat Club renewal, or as a direct gift to the sport.
Here is the full letter in its entirety:
Dear Wildcat Club Member and Friends of Arizona Athletics,
Arizona Athletics is committed to staying connected and engaged as we continue our work to support nearly 500 student-athletes and provide opportunities for them to be academic, athletic and life champions as we move forward through these trying times of the COVID-19 global pandemic. We have worked every day to provide our student-athletes with key academic, medical, mental health, strength and conditioning and nutritional resources. These new challenges have strengthened our athletics department’s unity and resolve, and I have been inspired by our staff’s team approach to this “new normal” while maintaining day-to-day operations.
Part of our Wildcat Way of life is centered around one of our greatest resources: the people of our athletics department. Led by our Human Resources staff, Arizona Athletics has remained focused on employee health and wellbeing. We’ve diligently guided staff through family wellness resources, work from home transitions and virtual staff fitness sessions among other important initiatives. We have a tremendous team of staff members who work tirelessly to support our athletic programs, and their health and safety remains a key priority.
As Arizona’s Director of Athletics, I am working side by side with the leadership of the University of Arizona, the Pac-12 Conference and the NCAA to ensure our department is in alignment on key decisions regarding health and safety, education, legislation, finances and the future of college athletics. We’ve already seen some of this group’s work with the eligibility relief vote for spring sport student-athletes, which I believe is critical to fulfilling the student-athlete experience for these tremendous young men and women. This local, regional and national collaboration will continue to be a guiding force that will propel us into the future.
These trying times have created unprecedented economic hardships that have deeply affected us all. We are already feeling the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and without question, these will be felt for years to come. As of today, we are anticipating a revenue loss of over $7.5 million in this fiscal year alone. This loss stems from a reduction in PAC-12 and NCAA revenues, other spring sport revenues, loss of ticket sales, as well as a decline in other revenue projections. Our department has taken significant steps to reduce and freeze spending to mitigate these reductions for this fiscal year.
I have been working with a team of peers, our Executive Team, and campus partners to create forecasting models for next year. Based on these models, we must have a plan for reduced spending in a variety of administrative, operational, and sport program areas, and aligning future compensation decisions with university guidance and planning. We have continued to honor our scholarship and academic commitments to our student-athletes and are working to protect our commitment to our employees. We fought to support the extension of eligibility for student-athletes in spring sports and even in these difficult times, it was absolutely the right thing to do. Our athletics department anticipates the cost of this extension of eligibility to be approximately $600,000 for the next fiscal year, and your continued support of Arizona Athletics is crucially important during this time.
In order to provide maximum payment flexibility for our fans, we extended our Wildcat Club and season ticket renewal deadline to June 1, and offered payment plans through August 1 and September 1. Additionally, we have offered fans a credit option for canceled spring sport season tickets. This credit can be applied to tickets next season, or to your current Wildcat Club renewal, or as a direct gift to the sport. We know the COVID-19 pandemic is not only a medical crisis, it is presenting many of us with significant challenges. Therefore, we will be as flexible as possible to continue your active involvement.
Arizona Athletics remains dedicated to living the Wildcat Way and providing a championship student-athlete experience. We will continue to be an important part of the University of Arizona and the Southern Arizona community. Thank you for standing with us during these unsettling times as we move forward, together! Stay safe and healthy.