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UK Athletics cutting expenses

LEXINGTON, Ky. — University of Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart on Monday provided a budget update that continues to place student-athletes first in the face of a projected decline in net revenues of nearly $35 million in 2020-2021 because of COVID-19.

Specifically, Barnhart told board members the department budget for 2020-2021 includes a forecasted reduction in net revenues of $35 million, primarily from the loss of ticket sales in football and basketball and a reduction in ticket-related contributions to the K Fund. A presentation regarding the budget outlook presented to board members can be found here.

Health measures to confront the coronavirus resulted in state mandates that reduced seating capacity to 20% and 15% at Kroger Field and Rupp Arena for football and basketball, respectively.

Barnhart said the loss of revenues will be offset by increases in the Southeastern Conference revenue sharing, ongoing efforts to increase philanthropic support, a transfer of surplus funds from previous years, and cutting expenses.

Like the rest of the campus, athletics department compensation was cut 5% at the start of the fiscal year through a temporary reduction in retirement benefits. Barnhart said layoffs and additional salary reductions are not being considered at this time nor is UK Athletics asking for any assistance from UK’s general fund operations.

UK Athletics is one of a handful of departments across the country that receives zero dollars from student fees and institutional general funds. UK Athletics, in fact, pays for the scholarships it provides, its facilities, utilities, and maintenance as well as other expenses and has contributed millions of dollars to the university’s academic mission, including paying the annual debt service for $65 million of the more than $100 million Jacobs Science Building in the heart of UK’s campus. When that partnership was announced in 2016, it was considered an unprecedented investment from athletics into the academic mission of a major university.