76ers, Devils Won't Reduce Employees' Salaries During Coronavirus Crisis

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The 76ers and Devils have backtracked on their plan and will not temporarily reduce employees' salaries during the sports shutdown, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

"After listening to our staff and players, it's clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salary," Josh Harris, founder of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement to ESPN.

"This is an extraordinary time in our world–unlike any most of us have ever lived through before–and ordinary business decisions are not enough to meet the moment. To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong."

The team's decision comes after The New York Times' Marc Stein reported Monday that the Sixers and Devils would be imposing temporary salary reductions beginning on April 15. Salaried employees making over $50,000 were set to receive salary reductions of up to 20% in an attempt to avoid layoffs.

Contract employees—including players and coaches—were asked to participate in the salary reductions, though they could not be forced to. 

"To ensure we can continue to support and operate our businesses during these uncertain times without reducing our workforce, we are asking our full-time, salaried employees to temporarily reduce their pay by up to 20 percent," Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment CEO Scott O’Neil said in a statement Monday, per Stein. "We are committed to playing an ongoing role in funding efforts to help the most impacted residents in our home cities."

Wojnarowski reported earlier on Tuesday that Sixers employees had until Thursday to agree to the salary reductions. 

"Among many so far, there's apprehension on committing to giving back money–especially with uncertainty surrounding employment futures," reported Wojnarowski.

ESPN's Ramona Shelbourne added that 76ers star Joel Embiid planned to step up and assist team employees facing financial hardships due to the franchise's salary reductions. Embiid also pledged $500,000 to help with COVID-19 relief efforts in Philadelphia. 

The NBA indefinitely suspended play on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The NHL suspended play on March 12. 

Josh Harris purchased the 76ers for $280 million in 2011. He is the co-founder of Apollo Global Management.