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Badgers' highest-paid employees asked to extend voluntary pay cuts for 4 more months

Badgers' highest-paid employees asked to extend voluntary pay cuts for 4 more months


Football coach Paul Chryst, men’s basketball coach Greg Gard, athletic director Barry Alvarez and other top-paid employees of the University of Wisconsin athletic department will be asked to extend a voluntary pay cut through much of this season.

That’s one part of the next phase of a cost-reduction plan that was unveiled to Badgers employees this week amid a severe drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 24 highest-paid UW athletics employees were asked in May to take a 15% pay cut through October. The department now wants to extend that until Feb. 27.

Chryst was scheduled to make $4.25 million in salary this season before the reduction. Gard has a contract worth $2.55 million, while Alvarez was due to receive $1.55 million.

Most athletics employees are returning to their full weekly hours as the delayed start to the sports season approaches, but around 20 will remain on a work-share program through the end of 2020. Under the plan, they’ll have their hours reduced by either 20% or 50%, and they can apply for unemployment benefits.

Those who are returning to full hours, however, will be subject to between five and 9½ furlough days through Feb. 27, with higher numbers correlating to higher salaries.

UW athletics employees were told Wednesday a similar furlough plan is likely for the period from March through June because of financial projections. The cancellation of more competition could affect the staffing strategy.

UW has projected $60 million to $70 million in pandemic-related revenue losses from a 2020-21 athletics budget originally approved at $140 million. The declines were attributed to lost ticket sales and donations associated with season packages, as well as concessions, sponsorships and licensing.

Limiting expenses through a hiring freeze, a pause on nonessential purchases and travel restrictions have gone along with the salary cuts.

Senior associate athletic director Justin Doherty said the 20 staffers staying in the work-share program are spread out in different roles in the department. Originally implemented for around 350 employees in May, the number was reduced to around 230 in August.

After delays because of the coronavirus, the Badgers football season is scheduled to begin Oct. 23. Men’s hockey is targeting a Nov. 13 opening. Men’s and women’s basketball can begin as early as Nov. 25.

Volleyball, soccer and cross-country seasons were moved to begin in January or February.

“There’s no question that as we start to hold events that there’s people with essential roles at our events,” Doherty said. “And yet in other ways — if you don’t have fans in the stadium, for example — it’s a lot different than if you did.”

About 30 open athletics jobs won’t be immediately filled during a hiring freeze. Doherty said he couldn’t address specifics about the nature of those positions.

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