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Ohio State Athletics Announces Budget Cuts Due To $107 Million Deficit

Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith answers questions during a news conference on Dec. 4, 2018, in Columbus.
Jay LaPrete
Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith answers questions during a news conference on Dec. 4, 2018, in Columbus.

The Ohio State University athletics department expects a $107 million deficit as a result of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the department announcedspending reductions including cutting jobs and sports operating budgets, football game day expenses, and facility operations.

"While work on the budget is ongoing, major expense reductions include $9.6 million in savings through a short-term restructure on debt, $6.1 million in cuts from sports’ operating budgets, $4 million on administration/support unit operating budgets, $3.4 million in football game day expenses, $3 million in non-conference game guarantees and $3 million in facility operations," the department wrote in a release.

Some of the largest cuts are coming from personnel, including furloughs, salary cuts, and eliminating 25 full-time positions. The department said 48 members of the athletic training staff and the strength and conditioning staff will have five-day intermittent furloughs, 13 other staffers will have a 10-day intermittent furlough, and 84 staff members will have a 60-day continous furlough or redeployment.

Another 47 staff members will be asked to take a voluntary 5% salary reduction for the next year, including Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day and head basketball coach Chris Holtmann, who are among the school's highest-paid employees.

"Ryan Day, Chris Holtmann and I have already had conversations and I know they will opt in," Athletic Director Gene Smith says. 

Smith says cuts will not touch the university’s 36 sports programs or student athletes.

"Our primary objective was to make sure that what we did in our personnel management space was to try and protect the needs of our student athletes," Smith said. 

The coming year's athletics budget doesn’t include media rights revenue, because the Big Ten Conference and TV partners are still ironing out the details. The conference recently announcedit would resume the fall football season, which was postponed due to the pandemic, in mid-October.

Ohio State’s athletics department is one of about 20 nationwide that is self-sustaining, which means it receives no funding from tax dollars or student fees.