Long says another round of furloughs, salary reductions coming for KU athletic department; fans won’t be allowed on hill for Sept. 12 football game

photo by: Mike Gunnoe

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, left, and Athletics Director Jeff Long talk before the game at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31, 2019.

Kansas Athletics Director Jeff Long said Friday that the department would undergo another round of furloughs and salary cuts as it continues to struggle with cash flow amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department announced a sweeping round of furloughs and pay reductions in May that Long estimated at the time would save KU Athletics about $650,000 through the end of the year. The department had also implemented more targeted pay cuts in April, and altogether, to date, has saved an approximate $1.15 million in 2020.

Long announced the additional furloughs and salary reductions in a Friday meeting of the university’s Athletics Advisory Committee, which is made up of a few dozen KU employees and students. He did not address specifics of what would be involved in the next round of cuts, nor when they would be formally announced.

Dan Beckler, a spokesperson for Kansas Athletics, told the Journal-World after the meeting that further information wasn’t ready to be publicly shared.

Beckler did confirm that, as of Wednesday, the department has results from 2,504 COVID-19 tests of KU student athletes (it’s not clear how many of those are re-tests), 69 of which have returned with positive results.

As the Kansas football team prepares for its first game on Sept. 12 against Coastal Carolina, Long said that KU administrators were working to designate safe places for students to watch the game, which will take place without fans, but noted that the hill near David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium wouldn’t be one of them.

“I believe the hill would not be populated at all,” Long said.

Tammara Durham, KU’s vice provost for student affairs, attended the virtual meeting Friday and said that details weren’t finalized for where students could watch the first game, which begins at 9 p.m., but confirmed that the hill was off limits. It’s unclear what mechanisms are planned to enforce that policy.

Long said it was the department’s “hope and desire” to get the Lawrence and KU community to comply with proper public health practices so fans could attend the next home football game, currently scheduled for Oct. 3 against Oklahoma State.

“We’re hopeful to be somewhere between 10% and 25 or 30% of our stadium capacity,” Long said. “We’re hopeful, but we’ll know that as we get closer to that game time and we see how the numbers are playing out.”

More specifics on the financial outlook of KU Athletics will likely be addressed on Sept. 16, when the board of directors governing Kansas Athletics holds its quarterly meeting.

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