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Athletic department to partake in university-wide budget cuts

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Before the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic become more widespread, those at the top will reduce their salaries.

Northwestern’s athletic department has begun cutbacks with top-paid administrators and head coaches taking voluntary reductions in pay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

University President Morton Schapiro announced in an email Monday morning that Northwestern would be making financial changes in response to the university’s expected $90 million shortfall for the 2020 fiscal year. Schapiro said he expects 2021 shortfalls to be even more significant, whether or not students return to campus.

As a part of these cuts, members of the President’s Senior Staff chose to take pay reductions, including Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation Jim Phillips, who took a 10 percent voluntary pay cut as well. In addition to Phillips, his executive staff and head coaches have taken similar salary reductions as well, according to a release from the athletic department.

The salary cuts for athletic personnel will be significant as Pat Fitzgerald, Chris Collins and Phillips rank as three of the top four university employees, earning $5.14 million, $2.57 million and $2.06 million, respectively, according to the most recent Form 990.

Athletic departments all over the country are expected to implement financial changes as they encounter the challenges of no sports. According to a Saturday release from the University of Wisconsin Department of Athletics, the Badgers’ “highest-earning employees will be asked to voluntarily incur a 15-percent reduction in pay over the next six months.”

That group features 25 people, including athletic director Barry Alvarez, football coach Paul Chryst and men’s basketball coach Greg Gard. The department said other employees will reduce their work hours until late July.

Schapiro also announced the university will furlough 250 staff members whose workloads are reduced or limited due to remote operations through at least the summer quarter. While the athletic department is still working to finalize budget cuts for the 2021 fiscal year, they plan to take part in the university-wide furloughs as well.