Washington Huskies cut athletic budget by 15% for 2020-21

SEATTLE -- Washington is reducing its overall athletic department operating budget by 15% for the 2020-21 fiscal year and all the school's head coaches have agreed to minimum 5% pay reductions.

Athletic director Jennifer Cohen announced the moves Friday and said they would save the school around $13 million. She reiterated that the school intends to continue offering all 22 of its athletic programs.

"Like most organizations, this pandemic has taken a real financial toll on our athletic department. We've done everything we could over the last few months to manage the cost-saving efforts as best as possible," Cohen said. "As we look to the upcoming year we see challenges ahead, and we know that we need to implement additional mitigation strategies. And so these actions we're taking in salary reductions and operating expense reductions, they're painful, but they are absolutely necessary for us to have a collective path forward as an athletic department, not just for this year but for years to come."

The overall operating budget reduction will save approximately $8.5 million. The school says an additional $5 million will be saved through cuts to the salaries of head coaches, assistant coaches (minimum 3%) along with two-to-four week furloughs for all professional, classified and union staff members, totaling 156 employees.

Cohen is also taking a 5% pay reduction.

All current vacant positions in the department will remain open until June 30, 2021, and any midyear vacancies in noncritical positions will stay open for a minimum of three months.

It's uncertain whether these will be all the cuts needed with the unknowns around the college football season and what kind of revenue losses the Huskies might face if games are played without fans. During a board of trustees meeting in May, Cohen said the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on the Huskies' budget ranges from "kind of manageable to devastating."

Along with the pay cuts, Cohen, head football coach Jimmy Lake and head basketball coach Mike Hopkins have waived all incentives for the upcoming fiscal year.

Lake and Hopkins have also committed $100,000 each to the addition of a senior-level diversity and inclusion staff position to be filled by the end of the summer. Cohen has made a $50,000 gift to the department's Competitive Edge Fund that supports overall development of athletes, including mental health and academic development.