Iowa's Athletics Budget Takes $15 Million Cut

John Bohnenkamp

Iowa's athletic department budget will be reduced by $15 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, a reduction that will include pay cuts for staff.

The athletics department budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year was $124.8 million. The 2020-21 budget was anticipated to be $127.5 million prior to the reductions.

With the reductions in compensation and operations, the department’s 2020-21 budget proposal will be $112.5 million. The reduction includes nearly a $13 million cut in operating expenses, with the remaining money coming from pay cuts.

The reduction comes after the cancellation of winter championships and the remaining spring seasons because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"None of this is easy for our coaches and staff. I appreciate their continued understanding in these uncertain times," Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said. "The pandemic has dealt us a financial situation that requires difficult decisions. It is our responsibility to maintain a fiscally responsible operation while providing the highest level of service to our student-athletes." 

Barta's total compensation package has been reduced by more than 30%. Deputy athletics director Barbara Burke has agreed to a 25% salary reduction.

Women's basketball head coach Lisa Bluder, wrestling head coach Tom Brands, football head coach Kirk Ferentz and men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery have voluntarily agreed to a one-year, 15% base salary reduction or contribution back to the athletics department.

Among the other pay cuts within the department:

• Staff earning above $200,000 will see a 10% base salary reduction

• Staff making $150,000-$199,999 a 7.5% reduction.

• Salaries of $100,000-$149,999 a 5% reduction, $50,143-$99,999 a 3% reduction, and staff making below $50,143 a 2% salary reduction.

• Merit employees will participate in the budget reduction process through utilization of unpaid leave days in either 6-day or 8-day increments. Contracted employees were asked to participate in a voluntary salary reduction or contribution back to the department.

“I care deeply about our staff and recognize a reduction in salary will have a significant impact on many families throughout the department. I want to thank our entire staff for their support and understanding as we have worked through this process,” Barta said in the statement. “We are trying to balance making necessary financial cuts with spreading the sacrifice thoughtfully.”

The current reductions assume complete football and basketball seasons with fans in attendance. Any interruptions or reduction in those seasons would lead to more cuts.

"These are challenging times with significant uncertainty,” Barta said. “We are grateful for the loyal and generous support of our fans and appreciate knowing they are with us as we face this adversity.”