UMass announces furloughs, hour reductions for 57 athletic staffers

  • Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The UMass athletic department announced Thursday that 57 staff members will face a reduction in work hours and/or furloughs. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 9/17/2020 5:43:26 PM

The UMass athletic department announced Thursday that 57 staff members will face a reduction in work hours and/or furloughs.

The action is part of a university-wide workforce reduction announced this week, and is being implemented as part of a detailed analysis of the department’s financial position during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to the challenging economic climate for our university and athletics department through the remainder of fiscal year 2021, these difficult personnel decisions were unavoidable,” Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “The staff furloughs and reductions today are part of a broad and deep plan our department has been forced to implement to overcome a multi-million dollar revenue shortfall.”

The fiscal year 2021 budget contains cost saving initiatives to overcome a $5 million budget shortfall. Earlier this summer, a majority of coaches and administrative staff on employment contracts agreed to voluntary salary reductions ranging from 2% to 10% through June 2021. Further, seven positions created through the university’s Voluntary Separation Incentive Program (VSIP), as well as five other vacant positions (both coaching and support unit) due to the university hiring freeze, will go unfilled this fiscal year.

The reduction plan also includes 12%-15% cuts to department operations, including administrative and sport budget reductions using a shift to regional scheduling and reduced travel for many of UMass’ 21 teams. The department will also have increased reliance on fundraising accounts to support essential operating expenditures.

The department budget losses are attributed to a number of decreased revenue streams, including university support (general operating funds), student fees, NCAA and conference distributions, ticket revenue, game guarantees and other event-based revenue sources.

The department is also preparing for an additional $2-$3 million in potential revenue losses based on expected changes to 2020-21 competitive schedules.

“The uncertainty of COVID-19 has negatively impacted the collegiate athletics model and forced our department to readjust operations for this year to manage almost 20% in expected budget cuts,” Bamford added. “As we assess the best way to navigate the challenging fiscal realities in 2020-21, we are also supremely focused on the future of Massachusetts Athletics and building a department that will rise from this adversity and be stronger than ever before.”

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