The University of Utah athletic department will implement department-wide furloughs, including athletic director Mark Harlan, football coach Kyle Whittingham and men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak, Harlan said in a radio interview Friday.
“We’ve had to make some tough decisions because you can’t wait for what might not happen,” Harlan told ESPN 700 host Bill Riley.
The decision comes with the department facing a financial shortfall that Harlan previously estimated could range from $50-60 million, due to cancellations and postponements from the coronavirus pandemic. Harlan did not provide a specific timeline for when the furloughs will be carried out or for how long the employees, including himself, will be away from work.
“Anyone who works in the department is going to be furloughed for some period of time, and that’s hard,” he said. “But we thought collectively as a group that if we all do this together, it would minimize. We’ve had to lay off some folks in terms of job eliminations and that’s been really hard. It’s not about the people’s performance; it’s just the time and the struggle that we’re in. We’ve eliminated bonuses. We’ve done the things that make sense to what people would expect us to do.”
Despite the news about the furloughs, Harlan expressed optimism about the Pac-12’s ability to resume football after the conference struck a deal to make daily testing for COVID-19 possible through a deal with Quidel Corporation, a manufacturer of FDA-approved rapid tests. Last month, the conference announced that it was postponing all competitive sports through the calendar year, citing the need for “rapid point of care tests” as part of its decision.