Revenue losses from COVID-19 make Athletics deficit likely in FY ’21


The University of Michigan athletic department expects a budget surplus of $1 million for the current fiscal year and, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, projects a budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics, presented the year-end financial projections and the budget for the coming year June 25 to the Board of Regents.

For the fiscal year 2020 operating budget, the athletic department projects an operating surplus of $1 million based on operating revenues of $187.4 million and operating expenses of $186.4 million. The operating surplus is a result of reduced operations and team activities. Looking ahead to FY ’21, the department projects a deficit, based on operating revenues of $135.8 million and projected expenses of $161.9 million. 

Elements of the FY ’21 operating budget are:    

  • Spectator admissions revenues are projected to decrease 50 percent between FY ’20 and FY ’21. It is important to underscore that this is a projection, with no final decision by the time of the June budget deadline.  
  • In responding to the pandemic, expenses have been reduced in all areas except for an increase to student-athlete financial aid. That category will see an increase of $800,000 primarily due to an increase in the number of student-athletes remaining on scholarship following the cancellation of the 2020 spring athletic season, and anticipated increases in tuition.
  • Salaries, wages and benefits are projected to decrease $6 million between FY ’20 and FY ’21 due to various expense reduction initiatives. Among them, Manuel, senior-level administrators, and many head coaches, including football coach Jim Harbaugh and men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard, will accept 10 percent salary reductions from Aug. 1, 2020, through the end of the fiscal year. Full-time staff members earning between $50,000-$100,000 will have salaries reduced by 5 percent, and employees earning between $100,001-$150,000 will have wages reduced by 7.5 percent during the same period. Staff earning less than $50,000 will not see any reduction in pay.
  • Team and game expenses are projected to decrease $6.5 million between FY ’20 and FY ’21 as a result of various expense reduction initiatives.

As part of the presentation, Manuel also shared some of the department’s top achievements, both on and off the field.

U-M earned eight NCAA Public Recognition Awards for ranking among the top 10 percent of its respective sports in the most recent multiyear Academic Progress Rate report, including men’s basketball for a ninth consecutive year. Fourteen athletic teams earned perfect APR scores for 2018-19, the latest report year.

Another 335 student-athletes were named Academic All-Big Ten Conference compared to a record 374 in the previous year. Field hockey’s Guadalupe Fernandez Lacort (economics) and men’s swimming & diving’s Tommy Cope (electrical engineering) were U-M’s recipients of the Big Ten Medal of Honor.

Through June 19, 48 student-athletes earned All-America honors during the year. U-M had 25 student-athletes earn All-Big Ten first team honors with 15 student-athletes winning individual conference titles. U-M boasted five CoSIDA Academic All-Americans across five programs.

In the community, U-M student-athletes worked in collaboration with numerous local nonprofit organizations. A few of the student-led initiatives included the weekly visits with patients at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, local elementary schools, Michigan Buddies mentoring program within the Ann Arbor Public School System, and Lunch with a Wolverine for elementary school children, in addition to programs with Wounded Warriors and Adopt-A-Classroom. 

Despite the abbreviated season, the Wolverines recorded top-10 national finishes in the Directors’ Cup standings in men’s cross country (7), field hockey (9), men’s soccer (9) and women’s soccer (9).

Michigan continued a lengthy annual streak of Big Ten championships, earning titles in women’s gymnastics (regular season) and men’s swimming and diving.


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