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Silas Walker, Deseret News
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Harlan: Utah Athletics May Lose $50-$60 Million With Cancellation Of Fall Sports

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah athletics department will be taking a major loss financially this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pac-12 announced on Tuesday that they have postponed all competitions until at least January 1, 2021. Which means no football season in the fall.

Harlan addressed the media on Wednesday and discussed how much of a loss his department will see due to the pandemic.

“Well, certainly there is an economic impact of this and certainly we are not surprised that we are in this position,” Harlan said. “It’s something that was a possibility. As such, our team has been planning for this possible outcome. Candidly, we believe it’s anywhere from $50-$60 million loss. Could be more depending on various different elements on a $91 million budget. We understand that is going to cause us to have to make some very difficult decisions as it relates to the operation of our department this year. We had an all-staff meeting about an hour ago and we said the same thing.

“We’re really going to have to focus on student forward facing type opportunities and really focus in on their academics and certainly the physical and mental preparedness that they would need whenever they play again,” Harlan mentioned. “Of course, we still have winter and spring ahead so we know it’s going to be a really tough road ahead but we have been working cooperatively with university leadership, certainly our conference as has been reported, has provided options that we will continue to explore. But we don’t hide from the fact that it’s going to be a great challenge for us going forward but, we believe here at the University of Utah with great leadership starting with our president, our incredible trustees that will go into this challenge with an idea that we are going to emerge with the momentum that we carry going into it. But, we know that there is heavy decisions ahead, it’s going to affect a lot of people but we are prepared to do that in the best possible way.”

Student-Athletes Playing Two Season In One Year?

One of the questions that has come up since the postponement of fall sports in the Pac-12 has been the possibility of playing the season in the spring. If that’s the case, will the student-athletes play two seasons in one calendar year?

“I think on the spring, what we owe it to – and certainly we have had these conversations but now it’s time to really get in-depth – is look at all of our fall sports and how they would fit into the spring,” Harlan said. “Obviously in football, their are many things to consider, where are the bowls going to be at that time, is the CFP (College Football Playoff) going to make any adjustments, what are the other conferences going to do with their decision-making process. All of that has to be considered. Certainly along with the physicality of that game, if we want to have a typical football season in fall of 2021, what would be the effect of that? Our television partners, where do they stand?”

“I think the most important thing we can do is our football working group committee in the Pac-12 that has been working since March will now spend the majority if not all of their time on that matter to look at every possible thing. We will talk to our football student-athletes. There’s a football student group that was developed by the Pac-12 last May, they have been meeting this summer,”Harlan added.  “We will talk to them, talk to our coaches and then we will be able to make some decisions about the viability of the spring. I am definitely not willing to shut it off at this point. Very willing and open to look at avenues that might exist and that’s the same with our other sports.”

“Is the NCAA going to move the championships? That decision hasn’t been made,” Harlan mentioned. “We expect more understanding of that next week to the spring. What does that do to them as well? How does that fit into the overall structure of all of our other sports, which would be the conclusions of our winter teams. All of that is the work that we can do, because that is the control the controllable part. Where we can really dive in and start looking at all of that. That is what we intend to do as a conference.”

BYU/Utah Basketball Game To Be Rescheduled

When the Pac-12 announced that all competitions would be postponed until at least January 1, 2021. While it has a major impact on fall sports, that also affects some winter sports as well including basketball.

The Utah men’s basketball team recently extended the series with BYU which included a meeting in Provo on December 12, 2020. Utah deputy athletic director Kyle Brennan has already been in contact with BYU about rescheduling the game.

“Deputy athletic director Kyle Brennan reached out and spoke to his counterpart yesterday,” Harlan said. “They had a nice conversation. Obviously, it’s a game that we will reschedule just like we have had to do with football. The whole basketball season, how it’s constructed, what it will look like, will there be non-conference games? That hasn’t been decided. We don’t know if the basketball season doesn’t slide past March, if we are able to even go. If it doesn’t slide past March, then that would be a very truncated season, maybe it will have to be league-only, if we get more space maybe we would have some opportunity but we just don’t know.

“Obviously, fall sports is league-only, that’s the work that needs to be done within our conference,” Harlan mentioned. “Kyle did reach out to his counterpart yesterday and they were very appreciative of it. We will continue to work with them along with other universities that had been on our schedule both in fall sports and certainly the winter sports. We will be working with our counterparts at those institutions to put back together what we can.”

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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