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Wisconsin athletics: pay cuts and hours reductions coming to athletic department

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The highest earners in the athletic department will be asked to take a voluntary pay cut.

Utah State v Wisconsin Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Saturday morning, the University of Wisconsin athletic department released a statement discussing “a compensation and work reduction plan” for “most of its employees in an effort to manage financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As of publishing, this plan will go into effect on May 18 and continue through July 25.

As a part of the plan the top-25 earners in the athletic department will be asked to take a voluntary pay cut of 15% for the next six months. That list includes athletic director Barry Alvarez, head football coach Paul Chryst and head men’s basketball coach Greg Gard. The release notes that “there will be no reduction in this group’s work hours.” Gotta keep ‘crootin, baby.

Most employees will participate in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Work-Share program and have their hours reduced anywhere from 20% to 50%. This would save UW Athletics an estimated $2.8 million.

“Reducing compensation and work hours is obviously not something I want to see for any of our Badger Athletics family,” Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “But we are facing the same financial challenges that other organizations across the country are. We are working hard to minimize the impact on our employees while responding to the realities of the situation created by the pandemic.”

Recently schools such as West Virginia, Louisville and Arizona have enacted similar measures and some smaller schools have even started to cut sports because of coronavirus.

Here is the statement in full:

May 9, 2020

MADISON, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin Department of Athletics intends to implement a compensation and work reduction plan to include most of its employees in an effort to manage financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan will tentatively go into effect on May 18 and continue through July 25.

“Reducing compensation and work hours is obviously not something I want to see for any of our Badger Athletics family,” Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “But we are facing the same financial challenges that other organizations across the country are. We are working hard to minimize the impact on our employees while responding to the realities of the situation created by the pandemic.

“I greatly appreciate our highest earners’ willingness to consider voluntarily accepting a temporary reduction in pay, as well as the rest of our staff who are sharing in this exercise by reducing their hours to help us navigate our way through these unprecedented times.”

Wisconsin Athletics’ highest-earning employees will be asked to voluntarily incur a 15-percent reduction in pay over the next six months. A total of 25 people comprises this group, including Alvarez, head football coach Paul Chryst and head men’s basketball coach Greg Gard. There will be no reduction in this group’s work hours.

Most employees will participate in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development’s Work-Share program (pending approval) and have their work hours reduced by either 20 or 50 percent. This includes approximately 350 employees who can apply for expanded unemployment benefits that in most cases offset lost wages through July 25. Use of the Work-Share Program allows UW Athletics to retain skilled employees by reducing work hours while allowing employees to supplement lost wages with unemployment benefits.

The compensation reductions for high earners combined with the pending Work-Share Program participation would save UW Athletics an estimated $2.8 million.

The majority of UW Athletics staff continue to work from home while the state’s “Safer at Home” directive remains in effect and while the UW-Madison campus is temporarily closed.