Josh Whitman, Lovie Smith and Brad Underwood Agree To COVID-19 Pay Cuts

The University of Illinois athletics department has announced its first pay cuts as the AD, head football coach and head men’s basketball coach volunteer to 10 percent cuts.
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Arguably the three most prominent men in the University of Illinois athletics department have volunteered to take temporary pay cuts in response to budget decreases as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.

Included in a release sent out by University of Illinois chancellor Robert Jones summarizing the overall budget situation of the U of I system schools, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, football head coach Lovie Smith and men's basketball head coach Brad Underwood have volunteered to take the same 10 percent pay cut for six months that Jones and the U of I system’s five vice chancellors have volunteered to take.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood (right) gets a hug from Athletic Director Josh Whitman after the win against Ohio State at Value City Arena.

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood (right) gets a hug from Athletic Director Josh Whitman after the win against Ohio State at Value City Arena.

According to their most recently signed contracts, Smith’s pay cut will be $200,000, Underwood’s pay cut will be $170,000 and Whitman will have his pay cut by $38,750. Jones said in the release the money of these temporary pay reductions will be distributed to the university’s COVID-19 emergency student assistance fund titled “Illinois Cares”

These volunteer pay cuts are the first of these to be announced by members of the U of I athletics department.

The Illinois Fighting Illini and head coach Lovie Smith (middle) celebrate after defeating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium.

The Illinois Fighting Illini and head coach Lovie Smith (middle) celebrate after defeating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Memorial Stadium.

According to Jones, the University of Illinois system is facing revenue losses to “exceed $81 million” based on projections into this July.

“This estimate is expected to grow as we move through the summer and into the fall,” Jones’ statement reads. “In particular, we must anticipate and plan for potential tuition losses due to pandemic-imposed restrictions on residential programs, ability of international students to travel and attendance decisions by our returning students.”

Jones’ statement says the U of I system officials still believe “furloughs, pay reductions and layoffs, and across-the-board budget cuts are not in our current financial planning and we will employ other mitigation strategies before we consider any such options”.