Oklahoma’s athletic department will institute cost-cutting measures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the school announced Wednesday night.
The declaration comes in conjunction with the start of the 2020-21 fiscal year. Athletic director Joe Castiglione said this is his department’s first steps in responding to COVID-19 and there may be cause for additional measures in the future.
“All of us understand that a number of circumstances will unfold in the weeks ahead,” Castiglione said in a statement. “Our staff continues to monitor our expense and income projections closely and we’ll take other actions as necessary.”
OU will implement budget cuts of approximately $13.7 million in controllable operation expenses, including a 10% salary reduction for any employee earning a salary of $1 million or more per year.
Football coach Lincoln Riley was paid $6 million last season, meaning he would have at least a $600,000 cut in pay.
OU’s football players began returning to campus this week in preparation for the start of voluntary workouts Wednesday. On Monday, 111 football players were administered tests for the coronavirus. Seven tested positive. There were seven previous positive tests to bring the total cases among players to 14.
The school said two of the players had recovered and 12 active cases remain. OU said 72 staff members were tested for COVID-19 and there were two positive results.
The budget modifications include accountability for COVID-19 expenses, which include testing protocols and increased safety measures. OU will maintain all financial aid services provided to student-athletes, including accommodations for extended eligibility.
Castiglione said the department was able to balance the 2019-20 athletic budget. He remains optimistic about the upcoming school year.
“Our goal is to have all activities operate as safely and efficiently as possible,” he said. “That said, we are planning on a number of contingencies and protocols that will leave us prepared for any number of scenarios.”