Morgantown, W.VA. – West Virginia University Athletic Director Shane Lyons met with members of the media via Zoom this past Friday afternoon. Lyons was meeting the media following the announcement of furloughs in the athletic department and pay cuts for several head coaches.
Lyons opened his Zoom call with a mildly pained expression, knowing the day he had had was one that was one no athletic director wants to have. It was announced Friday that the department was furloughing 65 employees, as well as pay cuts for Lyons, Neal Brown, Bob Huggins, Mike Carey and Randy Mazey. The aforementioned salary cut goes into affect on July 1, and will go through 2021.
Lyons stated “News like this is not easy. I appreciate the understanding of our staff in these uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt us a financial situation that requires action, and our entire department will be affected as we work to minimize the effects and maintain a fiscally responsible operation.”
Lyons went on to state that the ongoing renovations and projects that the athletic department has going on are still ongoing, making note that the budgets for these projects are not affected by the furloughs and current May 2020 budget cuts. The projects and renovations funds come from gifted and future bonds; finances allocated specifically for the projects and are not an aspect of the 2020-2021 fiscal budget.
Lyons is on the College Football Oversight Committee within the NCAA and has his eyes and ears honed in on the 2020 football season, something that is undoubtedly on the minds of many. The committee meets weekly on the topic, with the Big 12 conference convening several times a week.
The Athletic Director pointed out that the safety of his student-athletes is a top priority amidst the COVID-19 concerns and that will not be taken lightly as schools, conferences and the NCAA look to determine a plan. As of now, Lyons and the Oversight Committee have the goal of football being played on August 29, with the Mountaineers taking the field on September 5. Lyons pointed out that a potential plan is for student-athletes to return to campus 4-6 weeks before the season starts in order to get ready for the season.
While the ultimate goal of Lyons, and really all athletic directors around the country, is for football to happen this fall (especially for the financial impact the sport has on universities across the board) it is likely too soon to make a decision on what will or will not happen this fall in terms of football.