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Financial Future At Utah Athletics Still Unknown Despite Fall Sports Returning, Furloughs Still In Place

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah Athletic Department is still expecting significant revenue loss in 2020 despite the Pac-12 Conference returning to fall sports in 2020. Utah Athletics Director Mark Harlan spoke with members of the media today to further detail the struggles in which the department is facing.

Yesterday, Larry Scott and the Pac-12 CEO Group announced the return of fall sports with football scheduled to begin on November 6th with a seven-game schedule concluding with the championship game on December 19th.

Earlier in September, the University announced that the University has furloughed employees and eliminated certain positions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact it has had.

“These decisions were not based on employee performance, but rather reflect the significant financial shortfall we face as well as the realities of the postponement of fall sports competition,” Harlan said on September 4th.

Unknown Financial Future

Fast forward to now, the University is still dealing with the unknown when it comes to revenue.

“We know that we are still dealing with significant financial challenges despite yesterday’s announcement but obviously we have the chance to have more revenue than what we thought we were going to have a few weeks ago,” Harlan said.

“We are going to continue to adhere to our budget and to all of the policies that we have put in place to manage our way through this knowing that there could be a light here at the end of the tunnel with more revenue that we were not necessarily counting on,” he added.

Yesterday, during the Pac-12 Conference’s announcement, the University of Oregon President Michael Schill told the media that the decision to return to play had nothing to do with money. Rather, the new health guidelines and testing capabilities are solely to blame for the return of fall sports within the Pac-12 conference.

Harlan reiterated Schill’s comments from yesterday.

“I can tell you unequivocally both the decision back on August 11th from my lens and yesterday’s decision had everything to do with the new medical guidelines. But also recognizing that that does allow revenue to flow.”

Television Revenue

The financial future for Utah Athletics will depend on how many games Utah can play. Currently, Utah is scheduled to play a total of seven conference games. However, the unknown of the virus and how it will impact the football team is still very much relevant. There is a chance that Utah will be forced to forgo games due to the number of positive cases it has within its football program.

There will also be no fans allowed inside the stadium to watch Utah play, the conference announced yesterday along with the decision to bring fall sports back.

Not having fans will impact the budget, Harlan does not know just how much of an impact it could have, however. But he does realize that the only source of revenue the athletic department will receive will come from television.

“Depending on how many games are played in this 2020 season we will know at the end how much revenue that brings from a television standpoint,” Harlan said.

Schedule

The conference is yet to announce official dates for the upcoming games.

Although, Utah does know that they will host Arizona and USC and they will travel to play Colorado, Arizona State and UCLA.

The final cross over game will also be played at home, the opponent is still unknown.