UW athletics slashes 13 positions, $1.6 million
Thirteen positions will be eliminated as the University of Washington athletic department announced $1.6 million in additional cuts Wednesday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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The University of Washington athletic department Wednesday announced it will eliminate 13 positions as it continues cuts to counter an expected $2.8 million shortfall projected for the next academic year.
The staff reductions will trim about $600,000. The department announced that $1 million more will be cut from the budget across the board.
The two moves will cut about $1.6 million, the university said in a news release. The school also eliminated its men's and women's swimming programs 12 days ago, which cut $1.2 million from the budget.
In total, the UW is cutting $2.8 million from its budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year.
Department spokesman Richard Kilwien said the school "has to cut the expense line to match an expected decrease in revenue."
Of the 13 jobs being slashed, four are coaches with the swim program. Two vacant positions will not be filled.
The other seven come from the departments of marketing, communications, administration, academic services and facilities. All effected employees were told Wednesday.
No other coaching positions were eliminated, and there are no cuts to scholarship limits for any of the department's remaining 21 athletic teams.
Kilwien said details of the additional $1 million in cuts to the department budget are still being worked out. But he said a large share is expected to come in travel reductions for all sports. He also said general operating budgets for individual sports will be cut.
"Every sport has been impacted," he said. "To what degree is still to be determined."
In the news release, UW athletic director Scott Woodward said the cuts are "regrettably necessary to preserve the viability of our remaining sports programs. We expect this action, over the long-term, to allow us to continue to serve our student-athletes and fans, remain self-sufficient and continue to maintain a positive fund balance."
School officials say the two biggest hits to the department's revenue are a gradual loss in income from football the last five years since the team began losing, and a dip in earnings from the department's endowments.
UW projects a budget of about $62.6 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year, and a budget of about $1 million less than that for the 2009-10 fiscal year, including Wednesday's cuts. Expenses have continued to increase due to growing scholarship costs, largely from a 14 percent rise in tuitions.
Nearly 200 people are employed in the athletic department. In addition to the layoffs, three other positions will be reduced from year-round to 10 or 11 months.
About 85 percent of the department's revenue comes from the football program, with men's basketball accounting for the other 15 percent.
Football season tickets have dropped from 55,976 in 1995 to 43,497 last year, not including students and faculty. The athletic department projects about the same number in 2009. To date, UW has sold 37,700 season tickets for next season, but sales usually pick up as the season nears.
Woodward said in a previous interview that the cuts were also needed to help the department preserve a $7 million budget reserve, which he said is important for emergencies. He said the reserve is necessary because the department doesn't get any "tuition or taxpayer money."
In Wednesday's statement, Woodward called the cuts difficult.
"It is extremely difficult to affect the lives of dozens of our employees and student-athletes in such a dramatic way," he said. "Last week's decision regarding swimming [announced May 1], coupled with today's announcement of job layoffs, impacts a lot of people, and I wish we were not in this situation."
Many athletic departments in the country are facing budgetary issues because of the economy's downturn.
Cost-cutting was the main topic of conversation at the Pac-10 meetings last week. Nationally, at least 13 collegiate programs have announced the elimination of 29 athletic teams for budgetary reasons this year, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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