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Arizona Wildcats announce moves to mitigate financial losses amid coronavirus pandemic

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 29 Arizona Bowl - Utah St v New Mexico St Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A shortened Pac-12 football season with no fans is only putting a small dent in the massive revenue shortfall the Arizona Wildcats are experiencing because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke made it clear in September that moves would have to be made to mitigate those losses and the school announced them Monday, saying it will eliminate 21 full-time positions in addition to 15 frozen positions that became vacant during the financial crisis.

The school says that will reduce spending by $30 million this fiscal year and beyond “as the department faces a projected overall revenue loss of $45 million or greater due to restriction of fan attendance at athletic events, a reduced football schedule, and the uncertainty of other revenue streams.”

“Today marks a difficult day of very tough decisions for our athletics department,” Heeke said in a statement. “I have a great sense of empathy and compassion for the members of our Wildcat Family who are impacted by these decisions. These challenging economic times have affected all of us. We’ve spent months exhaustively looking at all of our financial models and forecasts. We waited until all the information was available to make informed financial decisions about our economic stability this year and in the future.”

The UA is also taking these actions to “ensure financial stability”:

  • Compensation reductions and salary savings: $3.6 million for this fiscal year. This reduction includes participation in the University of Arizona’s campus wide furlough program, hiring freeze of vacant positions, and workforce reductions with a potential permanent savings of approximately $2.3 million
  • Reduction of overall administrative expenses, which reduced spending by $8 million
  • Anticipated reduction in overall sport expenses, which reduced spending by $5.2 million
  • Additional operational and facility expense reductions, which reduced spending by $3.2 million
  • Restructured debt for fiscal year 2020-21, which is anticipated to save $10 million for this fiscal year

“I’d like to recognize the athletics department and Dave Heeke in their efforts to take their financial obligations serious during this global pandemic,” said UA president President Robert C. Robbins. “We all share the responsibility of effectively managing our resources to ensure we can effectively recover from this crisis.”