MU athletics employees take pay cuts, furloughs amid budget crisis

1 month 5 days 19 hours ago Saturday, June 06 2020 Jun 6, 2020 Saturday, June 06, 2020 5:44:27 PM CDT June 06, 2020 in News
By: Mikayla Easley, Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA (Missourian) - Employees making over $60,000 in the MU athletics department will take a three-month pay cut beginning July 1, according to a Friday update of an MU website that tracks budgetary actions.

Also, MU laid off another 34 employees and furloughed 446 more this week, according to the website, for a total of 117 layoffs and 2,129 furloughs.

Pay reductions in the athletics department are part of a $16.5 million cut from its operating budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which also includes more layoffs and furloughs. Athletic director Jim Sterk sent an email to employees in May that said the layoffs were coming and would save the department about $5 million.

The department will take a tiered approach to salary reductions. Employees who make more than $60,000 will take a 7.5% cut, and those who make more than $100,000 will take a 10% cut.

Employees who previously took voluntary pay cuts will not be affected again. That includes Missouri football coach Eliah Drinkwitz, women's basketball coach Robin Pingeton, men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, wrestling coach Brian Smith and baseball coach Steve Bieser, who all took temporary salary reductions in April.

Nick Joos, deputy athletic director of communications, said the department is anticipating a 20% decrease in revenue next year.

Joos said the department does not receive institutional funding; rather, it generates revenue from television, ticket sales, donations and money from the Southeastern Conference, the NCAA and others. In the 2019 fiscal year, the department finished with a budget deficit for a third year in a row.

The department has also planned to take a financial hit after receiving sanctions from the NCAA that bar MU sports teams from participating in postseason play.

"We've made adjustments to our budget accordingly, with our primary principle being to protect our sports programs and preserving the student athlete experience," Joos said.

Information used in the Friday website update was current as of Wednesday. Because the numbers reflect only layoffs that have officially been recorded by MU's human resources system, it is possible that additional layoffs have been made but not yet registered online.

Furloughs affect staff members and vary in length. MU has made 1,691 total voluntary and mandatory salary cuts, according to the website.

Data on salary cuts, furloughs and layoffs is not broken down by college or department.

The University of Missouri System is evaluating and adjusting its budget every quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create budget struggles. Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday an additional $41 million in withholds from higher education through June 30. As a result, the UM System has lost $52 million in budget cuts this year.

After cuts made Monday, MU has lost $27 million in state funding. The website indicates that budget officials are preparing for a 12.5% budget cut for fiscal year 2021.

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