Oklahoma athletic department cuts $13.7 million from budget; football team announces 14 COVID-19 cases

Jack Baer
·2 min read

As it announced a wave of positive coronavirus tests on its football team, the University of Oklahoma athletic department also divulged Wednesday that it is cutting $13.7 million in operating expenses.

Oklahoma disclosed that of the 111 football players tested for coronavirus, 14 players have tested positive and 12 cases are still active. Two of the 72 staff members tested also came back positive.

Those numbers are similar to what we are seeing at schools across the country, currently topped by the 37 cases seen on the Clemson football team.

Lincoln Riley, others taking pay cuts

It was in that context that the Oklahoma athletic department revealed its budget cuts, which included a 10 percent salary reduction for all employees with a salary of more than $1 million per year. That would include figures like head coach Lincoln Riley.

The department also said it was accounting for COVID-19 expenses like tests and other safety measures. Financial aid and student-athlete services are reportedly not facing any cuts.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione seemed to imply that more moves could be in the works based on how the coronavirus situation changes going forward.

“Our goal is to have all activities operate as safely and efficiently as possible,” Castiglione said in Oklahoma’s release. “That said, we are planning on a number of contingencies and protocols that will leave us prepared for any number of scenarios.”

Comparatively, Iowa is reducing its budget by approximately $15 million while Michigan is anticipating a $26.1 million deficit for the 2021 fiscal year.

NORMAN, OK - NOVEMBER 23:  A Ruf/Nek parades the Oklahoma Sooners flag around the field after a touchdown against the TCU Horned Frogs on November 23, 2019 at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.  OU held on to win 28-24.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
College football is seeing a lot of coronavirus cases as athletes return to campus. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

Lincoln Riley had railed against early openings

All of these cases are occurring despite the Sooners opening their football facilities two weeks later than many of their Big 12 rivals. Riley had preached patience in reopening facilities, even going so far as calling the SEC’s talk of reopening on June 1 ridiculous:

“I do believe that if we do it right, if we’re patient enough on some key areas like when we bring our players back on campus. All this talk of schools wanting to bring players back on June 1st is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.”

“We’ve got to be patient. We’ll get one good shot at it. Bring them back at the right time when we’re as prepared and know as much about this as we possibly can.”

The Sooners’ first game is on Sept. 5 against Missouri State. Whether or not will actually happen could depend more on the state of Oklahoma than the football team.

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