INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The COVID-19 pandemic has forced colleges around the country to eliminate sports, cut salaries and positions throughout their athletic departments and fear for the worst about what might happen next.
Basketball season already got cut short last March, and by canceling March Madness, the NCAA lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
Because of the massive budget deficits, the NCAA will furlough its entire Indianapolis-based staff of about 600 employees for at least three weeks, starting in two weeks. Some more seasonal employees are looking at furloughs up to eight weeks.
NCAA President Mark Emmert sent out the furlough memo to its 1,200 member schools on Wednesday. Senior executives are not affected by the furloughs because they had already agreed to salary reductions earlier in the year. There also has been a salary freeze for months, and many vacant positions have not been filled.
“These decisions are unfortunate but necessary as we continue to identify ways to cut costs across the national office,” Emmert wrote. He said all the measures represent “top of budget cuts in every national office group totaling nearly half our operating budget.”
The NCAA’s annual revenue reached $1.1 billion last year, with most of that coming from rights fees from the basketball tournament. Because of it, the NCAA cut its annual distribution to Division I conferences and schools this year from an expected $600 million to $225 million. Schools have had to act accordingly.
“We are committed to supporting our member schools and conferences and student-athletes in every way possible, and yet I expect that some of our services to membership may be limited or delayed during this period furloughs,” Emmert wrote. “I ask for your patience as we all strive to weather these difficult times together.”