USF has become the latest collegiate athletic department forced to enact significant budget cuts in response to the coronavirus, announcing the elimination of 30 positions Thursday.
Additionally, across-the-board furloughs or pay reductions — ranging from 2%-15% — for all salaried employees have been implemented for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.
“Today is a day I hoped would never come,” athletic director Michael Kelly said in a university statement. "But the budget realities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic have caused us to reach this point.
“We have tremendously talented and hard-working people and they are a treasured resource, but we simply are not able to align our budget with current revenue projections without making extremely difficult and painful decisions that unfortunately negatively impact our staff and their families.”
Kelly, football coach Jeff Scott and men’s basketball coach Brian Gregory — the department’s highest-paid employees — each will take a 15% pay reduction. Other actions taken include the suspension of all staff performance bonuses and automobile stipends.
The personnel-related actions will save the department approximately $2.5 million, according to the news release.
“It’s a sad day for USF Athletics. We lost some very valuable people that didn’t do anything wrong,” said longtime women’s basketball coach Jose Fernandez, who took a 12.5% pay cut.
"It’s just the circumstances of the landscape of college athletics and the landscape of our world right now. I think we’re all very lucky and fortunate we can continue to coach and recruit and mold student-athletes day to day.
“We’re all going to be affected by this and we have very strong leaders, and we’re all going to come together and unite and take care of one another and move forward.”
Thursday’s news arrived the same day USF president Steven Currall announced the university’s top leaders would collectively reduce their pay by $600,000 as part of an effort over the next nine months to cut $36 million from the school’s budget.
Only six days ago, Memphis — an American Athletic Conference peer of the Bulls — announced the elimination of 19 athletic department positions, and furloughs for all salaried employees earning $40,000 or more, effective Oct. 1. Another AAC program, East Carolina, announced in May it was eliminating men’s and women’s tennis, as well as its swimming and diving programs.
To this point, no USF sports have been eliminated, though Kelly indicated Thursday’s actions alone “will not fully solve our budget challenges.”
“We must continue to be highly mindful of our operational spending and be excellent stewards of the dollars we receive,” he said.
“Now, more than ever, we will all work hand-in-hand with our Bulls Club (the department’s private fundraising arm) staff to increase our fundraising efforts and we appreciate the many fans who donated to the ‘Uplift the Bulls’ campaign as we continue to manage through these unprecedented times.”