UW Athletics braces of $100M shortfall in budget
UW is already down $12M on the year.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - University of Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez gave Badger fans and the community a hint to the cost of the coronavirus pandemic to his program: $100,000,000.
“Regardless of what our fall season looks like, we are facing a great financial challenge,” he said in a letter that painted a bleak outlook for the entire athletics department.
According to numbers from the Athletics Dept., the program has already lost an estimated $12 million in revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year. By the time the year is over, it could be down more $100 million, or more than two-thirds of its total $140 million budget, Alvarez stated. The Hall of Fame former coach added that he “(doesn’t) think it’s an embellishment to say the experience we love as Badgers and the legacy of our extraordinary athletic department is at risk.”
In his letter, Alvarez laid out the steps his department has taken to mitigate some of the lost revenue, including pay decreases for the top earners, word share furloughs for everyone, and freezes or partial freezes on hiring and travel. He believes those steps have helped the program make it this far without taking some of the more drastic actions, such as eliminating sports and job cuts.
Athletic directors from across the Big Ten gather every morning, along with Commissioner Kevin Warren, to determine when it will be safe to resume play, Alvarez explained, promising updates as soon as he hears more.
“The reality is that this financial crisis threatens our ability to sustain the success we’ve celebrated. It threatens our pride in what we’ve built. It threatens our position in college athletics,” he continued.
Read the full letter:
Dear fellow Badgers,
I just finished another meeting with the Big Ten Commissioner and conference athletic directors, and we continue to plan every way possible to safely return to play. We meet every morning, and as soon I have information about how our seasons will look this fall, I promise to share that with you.
Regardless of what our fall season looks like, we are facing a great financial challenge. I don’t think it’s an embellishment to say the experience we love as Badgers and the legacy of our extraordinary athletic department is at risk.
To this point, we have taken many steps over the past few months to minimize the impact of a cancelled winter postseason and spring season. We have instituted pay decreases for our top 25 earners and workshare furloughs for all employees, put a freeze on almost all hiring, restricted travel, limited to essential-only spending and announced the delay of the South End Zone renovation project. These steps have allowed us to avoid the tough decisions other schools have already had to make, like eliminating sports or laying off employees.
We have taken many steps, but we will have to do much more.
Our fall season will look nothing like we are accustomed to. Due to the current challenges, we are facing a potential financial revenue loss of more than $100 million from our $140 million budget.
Our commitment to achieving excellence and supporting our student-athletes will never change. For decades, we have all played a part in making the Wisconsin Badgers a national power. That is a legacy we are proud to pass on and cannot allow to fade.
Just like my children and grandchildren have been proud to call themselves Badgers, my hope is that the whole world is still watching as my great-grandchildren get the chance to Jump Around. I know many of you feel the same way.
The reality is that this financial crisis threatens our ability to sustain the success we’ve celebrated. It threatens our pride in what we’ve built. It threatens our position in college athletics.
I believe we will reach a monumental crossroads in the coming days. We will have two choices: remain at the head of the class or fall behind. Everything we pride ourselves on — competing at the highest level, developing world-class student-athletes and raising trophies — relies on our ability to financially support our student-athletes.
What gives me hope is that, as Badgers, our strength has always been in our people and our willingness to work toward a common goal. That drives my belief that we can overcome this tremendous challenge — and emerge stronger than ever.
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