MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — In an effort to save $3 million in payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic, WVU athletic director Shane Lyons announced some major cuts to the athletic department Friday.
Topping that list is a voluntary 10% cut to Lyons’ salary, as well as to the salaries of football coach Neal Brown, men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins, women’s basketball coach Mike Carey and baseball coach Randy Mazey.
The pay cuts will begin July 1 and end on June 30, 2021, according to Lyons and no sports are expected to be cut or suspended at this point.
“News like this is not easy. I appreciate the understanding of our staff in these uncertain times,” Lyons said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt us a financial situation that requires action, and our entire department will be affected as we work to minimize the effects and maintain a fiscally responsible operation.”
Lyons said the school’s athletic department is facing a projected $5 million shortfall, due to the cancellations of the Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, an additional loss of upcoming conference and ticket revenue, as well as Mountaineer Athletic Club donations.
The school also lost revenue with the cancellation of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“Reflecting back on this, we can sit around and say we were dealt a bad situation with COVID-19, but that doesn’t solve anything,” Lyons said. “We have to have a solution and be action-oriented in dealing with this pandemic. Responsive decisions were needed.”
WVU becomes the sixth school in the Big 12 to announce salary cuts.
Earlier this month, Kansas announced men’s basketball coach Bill Self, football coach Les Miles and athletic director Jeff Long would also be taking a 10% salary reduction.
WVU also announced athletic department officials and coaches making more than $100,000 will take a 5% reduction, while those making less than $100,000 will take a 2.5% reduction.
Also, in conjunction with WVU’s announcement, nearly one-third of the athletic department’s workforce (65 employees) will be furloughed for 60 days starting May 24 and ending July 26. Some employees will not return to the department as part of reduction in force measures, and current job openings will not be filled.
Lyons added no WVU coaches would be part of the athletic department staff reductions and that the department currently had six openings that will now not be filled.
“I am still optimistic that we will have a football season this fall,” Lyons said. “To date, more than 40 schools have announced budget reductions, 22 in the Power 5 conferences and six in the Big 12. Revenues, along with donor support, across the country have been affected by COVID-19, so we are not alone. However, we are trying to navigate this with the emphasis of making the least amount of negative impact on our student-athletes and department.”
Huggins is the highest-paid coach at WVU. A 10% reduction in pay, according to his contract, would cost him $405,000 this season, not including incentives.
In terms of creating additional revenue, Lyons said the school will move forward with plans to sell naming rights to its sporting facilities, including the WVU Coliseum and Monongalia County Ballpark.
“The naming rights opportunities and new revenue streams are always a top priority,” Lyons said. “We continue to explore naming rights for the Coliseum and continue to explore the naming rights of the ballpark and other facilities that we may be able to name.”
WVU currently has a number of renovation projects underway at its sports facilities, including adding new seats and a new scoreboard to the Coliseum.
Those will continue as planned.
“The projects that we are continuing to work on have nothing to do with our budgets for this year or for next year,” Lyons said. “The Puskar (football) renovations, the operations center, those are gifted funds, as well as future bond funds that we will work through. We are not stopping construction there.
“The Olympic sports weight room, we were very fortunate to get a nice gift from the Ruby trust, so that was specifically earmarked for that project. The Coliseum, the removal of the seats and the new seats are also from a gift earmarked specifically for that. The new video boards, one at Mountaineer Field and one at the Coliseum are also earmarked through our agreement with IMG. All the projects will continue.”