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Money, Money, Money: Rick George provides insight to financial situation

Athletic director Rick George spoke in-depth about CU's financial situation amid the pandemic.

Colorado’s athletic department is financially preparing for a year without football if it’s necessary, according to athletic director Rick George.

In a Zoom call with reporters Monday, George said he’s not expecting football to be canceled, but is preparing for that, nevertheless.

“I think that we're ready to have a fall football season and a fall sport season. We've been working incredibly hard to put together the right protocols for our student athletes when they come back on campus, to ensure their health and safety,” George said. “There's a number of ways, we'll mitigate it and we'll look at our operating budgets. Everything that we have in our budget is on the table for us to be able to make this 2021 academic year, competitive year as successful as we can.”

In an open letter released on Monday, Iowa State’s athletic director Jamie Pollard estimated that their athletic department would lose an estimated $40 million without a football season. When asked about Pollard’s claim, George agreed Colorado would be in a similar position.

Colorado’s 2019 NCAA financial disclosure showed the football team’s revenue was more than $43 million. Most athletic departments rely on football to support all of the other sports—in 2019, only CU’s football and men’s basketball teams turned a profit.

Despite the potential losses, George insists cutting sports is the absolute last resort.

“The last choice that we have is cutting sports,” George said. “We're trying to do everything that we can to keep our sports, our support services impact to provide for our student athletes as we move forward. We'll continue to do that. Is there a chance it could happen? There's always a chance, but those two areas are two areas that we will stay away from unless we don't play any college football at all and then we'll have to have those discussions.”

The NCAA requires Division 1 programs to have at least 16 sports. In April, the council rejected proposals by Power 5 schools to waive the minimum. Instead, they agreed to evaluate the issues on a case by case basis. Colorado is one over the minimum with 17 sports, but George said the NCAA minimum is not a factor in their decision making.

“That's not why we wouldn't cut. The reason we wouldn't cut is we like the 17 sports that we have. We feel like those student athletes should be competing for CU.”

To mitigate some of the financial burden, Colorado announced in April that George, Karl Dorrell, Tad Boyle and JR Payne would be taking 10% pay cuts for the upcoming fiscal year, while the rest of the head coaches would be taking 5% cuts.