GREENVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – On Monday, Furman University President Elizabeth Davis announced a series of steps the university is taking to make up for the over $4 million lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the most drastic among them being cutting the men’s baseball and lacrosse programs.
Furman said that national consultants and Athletic Director, Jason Donnelly, conducted a “comprehensive department-wide” analysis and came to the conclusion that the most sustainable long-term strategy is to end the programs. Scholarships for baseball and lacrosse players will be honored for the duration of their undergraduate careers, and “athletics staff also will assist any student-athletes in these sports who prefer to transfer to and compete at another institution.” Over the next five years, the number of athletics scholarships will be reduced by 45, “with the reductions spread over multiple sports.”
The university said that they “share the disappointment” and “have reached out to the affect student-athletes and coaches.” However, they feel that “these changes, together with an increased emphasis on revenue generation and philanthropic support, will create a sustainable 18-sport athletics program that advances academic and athletic excellence, financial stability, and gender equity.”
Another major cut will be to the paychecks of the university’s vice presidents, athletics director, head football and basketball coaches, and “other more highly compensated employees,” who have agreed to a 10% salary cut for the year. President Davis is taking a 20% salary cut. All faculty members will receive a pay cut equivalent to a two-week furlough.
Additionally, virtually all staff members will be furloughed at some point. According to the university, “employees whose workload is significantly diminished over the summer while the campus is closed will be furloughed for a period of up to 10 weeks starting in June.” All other staff members will experience a two-week furlough at some point during the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. All furloughed employees will retain health benefits.
Other measures include reducing the university’s contribution to retirement accounts by 2.5%, and reducing the 2020-2021 fiscal year operating budgets by 5.5%.
The university said that it anticipates financial stress to be a factor for the foreseeable future, and is actively exploring additional solutions to mitigate the financial crisis. The steps being taken by the university are to “ensure that [the] university can continue to carry out our academic mission at the highest level of quality and engagement.”