UofL coaches taking pay cuts in Tyra's belt-tightening move


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- University of Louisville coaches and athletics department administrators are doing their part to soften the blow of anticipated severely reduced revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

UofL vice president/director of athletics Vince Tyra said during a teleconference with the media Thursday afternoon that the school's head coaches in 21 sports as well as 13 senior athletic administrators, including himself, have agreed to a 10 percent salary cut for the 2020-21 fiscal year (July 1-June 30).

In addition, Tyra is foregoing his annual bonus of $150,000 both for 20-21 and 21-22 and said his department has implemented a hiring freeze.

Tyra estimated the total salary savings at about $1.75 million, with coaches in four sports  at UofL -- men's and women's basketball, football and baseball -- accounting for the major portion of the pay reductions.

Men's basketball coach Chris Mack earns approximately $4 million per year, football coach Scott Satterfield $3.25 million, women's basketball coach Jeff Walz $1.5 million and baseball  coach Dan McDonnell $1.2 million. Tyra's pay will go from $850,000 to $765,000.

"Our head coaches and senior staff have been terrific in this conversation," Tyra said. "We didn't have to make demands, arm twisting and all of that. Each of the head coaches have called, reaching out, what can we do, how do we help? It's been 100 percent."

Tyra, speaking to reporters from his house on Nolin Lake where he has been working for the past two weeks, said he is also looking at other ways to reduce costs in the wake of a revenue shortfall from the cancellation of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournament and the uncertainty  about the start of this year's football season.

Tyra, a former business executive before being named UofL AD in March, 2018 after five months in an interim position, said more belt-tightening is to come. UofL's athletic department for 2019-20 is $104.35 million. His overall goal is to find $15 million in savings for 2020-21, but added that he is confidence he won't have to cut any of the 21 sports, which serve 600-plus student-athletes.

UofL's reserve fund has been hit hard in recent years, depleted significantly to pay a contract buyout of $14 million to former football coach Bobby Petrino; a settlement of $4.5 million to ex-AD Tom Jurich; more than $4 million for Mack's buyout at Xavier; legal expenses associated with the NCAA investigation into the men's basketball program; and legal fees necessitated by former coach Rick Pitino's lawsuit.

"We're challenging our staff to come up with more initiatives to help out," Tyra said. "There's nothing that's not on the table. You have to look at every expense. These are difficult decisions to make, but they've got to be made. As it gets into the  sports budget it's going to be quite a bit.

"We may be on buses more than teams like, incidental meals, just trimming of things we've been able to do. We're looking at all our agreements with any vendor, any commitments we have out there, everything is under review right now and more budgets will definitely be impacted.

"We're trying to minimize it as best we can because we're trying not to impact the student-athletes. That's the thing we're trying to protect and if that means us taking it a little more on the chin as support staff, we'll do so again."

That may happen because also on Thursday, UofL president Neeli Bendapudi announced plans for unpaid furloughs for some employees and pay cuts for those earning at least $100,000, a move that could affect other athletic department personnel.

Bendapudi announced in a campus-wide email that the university intends to institute "part-time and full-time employee furloughs in targeted areas" over the next several weeks. She did not specify how many employees will be furloughed or for how long.

UofL also will make the following pay cuts, effective April 1 through at least June 30:

--10% cut for university employees earning $300,000 or more in total compensation.

--5% cut for employees earning between $200,000 and $299,999.

-2% cut for employees earning between $100,000 and $199,999.

"I expect that we'll fall in line with what the university plan is," Tyra said. "We're looking at what we can do relative to any furloughs."

With the pandemic having put the 2020 college football season in jeopardy, that sport is the primary focus for Tyra and his peers at the moment because it is the cash cow for all major universities. On Tuesday, the University of Minnesota Board of Regents was warned that if the football season is cancelled it could mean as much as $75 million in lost revenue.

Tyra said UofL's football income is in "the high $40 millions."

"So you can see what impact it would have if there wasn't a football season," he added. "That's why everyone's going to work hard, the NCAA, the ACC, to try and maintain most and hopefully all of the football schedule."

Tyra said he is not in favor of playing games without fans and that he would prefer delaying the start of the season by as much as two months as opposed to playing in empty stadiums. He also said a shortened season that would involve eliminating some, if not all, non-conference games "gets tricky."

"If we do have to postpone, I hope we move it in a schedule block where we move forward Sept. 1, Sept. 15 or Oct. 1, Nov. 1," he said. "Knowing a season essentially takes four months, even if we were to start the end of November, I'd hope we'd be wrapped up by the end of February before getting to postseason basketball. But that's really looking ahead more than any insight or anything we've discussed at the conference level. There'll be a lot to sort out, but time and hopefully a cure for this pandemic will dictate what the right answer is."

Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.


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