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UNCG cost-cutting measures include partial furloughs of all athletics staff

UNCG cost-cutting measures include partial furloughs of all athletics staff

GREENSBORO — UNCG will furlough all of its full-time employees in the Spartans athletics department for 20 days from Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 as part of cost-cutting measures announced today.

The furloughs include athletics director Kim Record, who made the announcement in a letter to employees that was later posted to the website.

“Employees will continue to receive university benefits,” Record wrote. “Even though this is a shared sacrifice, it’s still a painful decision to make, and one that wasn’t taken lightly.”

The cancellation of the NCAA Tournament, the biggest money-maker of the year for all of college sports, put a serious dent in many mid-major schools’ budgets, and UNCG was no different. The Spartans received more than $610,000 from the NCAA disbursement in the 2018-19 school year, the most recent data in the Knight Foundation's College Athletics Financial Information database.

In internal review at UNCG showed the Spartans face “at a minimum” a 20% decrease in revenue for the 2020-21 school year.

UNCG's total sports expenses were $17.42 million in the 2018-19 school year, according to the CAFI database. Meanwhile, UNCG's revenues were $17.12 million, including $10.98 million (64%) from student fees.

“Balancing the budget is generally a difficult task, but this year the uncontrollable variables made it extremely painful,” Record wrote. “… That amount of (lost) money is not something we will be able to easily overcome, but through efficient and effective planning as well as consistent financial support from you, we have confidence we will come through the effects of the pandemic and continue to be a strong and vibrant athletic program.”

To compensate, UNCG has decided on:

• An 18% reduction in budgets for all 17 of its sports.

• A 30% reduction for all administrative/support units.

• Not filling six open jobs within the department.

• Eliminating seven part-time or temporary positions.

• Delaying maintenance at sports venues.

• Dipping into reserve funds.

• Focusing on increased fundraising efforts in the school’s Five-For-Five campaign, as well as additional Spartan Club appeals.

All scholarships for UNCG athletes will be honored throughout this academic year, Record said, including those fall sports athletes whose seasons were postponed last week as part of a Southern Conference-wide decision.

“I feel badly for our student-athletes and coaches,” Record wrote. “And there is nothing I can do to make it better. I never dreamed anything like this could happen. But please know that the No. 1 priority will always be the health and safety of our outstanding student-athletes.

“Sharing the news in a Zoom meeting with men and women who often define themselves by their sport was not easy. Women's soccer and volleyball were expecting to start practice on Monday and their disappointment was palpable. Our job moving forward with these teams (volleyball, men's and women's soccer, and cross country) is to ensure they have the resources they need to cope with this decision and the personal impact it has on each of them.”

Record’s letter went on to highlight UNCG milestones last year, most notably a school-record 178 athletes earning SoCon Honor Roll status. And for the 13th year in a row, UNCG athletes compiled an overall GPA above 3.0.

But those accomplishments don’t help the budget this year during the coronavirus pandemic.

The UNCG athletics department receives no state funding and depends mainly on student fees, basketball ticket sales, sponsorships and private dollars to fund its budget.

“This was a hard day,” she said. “We have hard-working, dedicated people on our staff who give of themselves, and I know this hurts. … I know we’re not alone in this, but that doesn’t make it easier.”

Contact Jeff Mills at (336) 373-7024, and follow @JeffMillsNR on Twitter.

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