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Pay cuts announced for CU Buffs head coaches

AD Rick George, campus executive staff also hit with cuts

BOULDER, CO - FEBRUARY 24, 2020:  New CU football coach, Karl Dorrell, is introduce at a press conference in Boulder on February 24, 2020.
(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
BOULDER, CO – FEBRUARY 24, 2020: New CU football coach, Karl Dorrell, is introduce at a press conference in Boulder on February 24, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

In his most recent conference call with the media last week, Colorado athletic director Rick George said the university would continue to take a “methodical” approach to the possibility of pay cuts for coaches amid the coronavirus pandemic that erased the entire spring sports slate and has the fall sports calendar, particularly football, in jeopardy.

That methodical approach culminated on Thursday, as George announced that CU’s 11 head coaches, along with George himself, will take pay cuts for the 2020-21 fiscal year. For George, first-year football coach Karl Dorrell, women’s basketball coach JR Payne, and men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle, the cut will be 10 percent.

For the remainder of CU’s head coaches — women’s soccer coach Danny Sanchez, women’s volleyball coach Jesse Mahoney, track and cross country coach Mark Wetmore, women’s lacrosse coach Ann Elliott Whidden, skiing coach Richard Rokos, women’s tennis coach Danielle Steinberg, women’s golf coach Anne Kelly, and men’s golf coach Roy Edwards — the pay cut will be five percent.

In a release from the university, the pay cuts were termed as “voluntary” without elaboration on how exactly it was voluntary instead of mandated. The release also indicated President Mark Kennedy, Provost Russell Moore, Chief Operating Officer Patrick O’Rourke, and the four CU campus chancellors also will take 10 percent pay cuts through furloughs.

George declined comment on the decision, but said in the statement released by CU: “I applaud our head coaches for taking a leadership role in this. It’s the right thing for all of us to do. There are a lot of unknowns ahead of us, and while we don’t exactly know yet the financial impacts for the upcoming year, for them to agree and voluntarily take pay cuts is important at this time for our student-athletes and the overall direction of all our sports programs and support areas.”

Dorrell, hired in February, was set to make about $3.2 million in his first year in Boulder, but the 10 percent reduction will trim about $320,000 off his bottom line. Boyle, who just completed his 10th season at CU, enjoyed a bump to his base and supplemental salary to $1,807,200 this past year. He will sacrifice $180,720 this upcoming season, and Boyle also declined the $105,000 bonus he was due for reaching the NCAA Tournament. George offered the bonus to Boyle, given the Buffs were in line for a tourney berth when it was canceled.

Thursday’s announcement by CU continues a cost-cutting trend around NCAA athletics as the fallout continues from the coronavirus pandemic that has forced sports at all levels into a holding pattern. Two weeks ago, Pac-12 rival Washington State announced athletic director Pat Chun, football coach Nick Rolovich, and men’s basketball coach Kyle Smith would take five percent pay cuts. In early April, Iowa State announced pay cuts for its coaches and other athletic staff. And earlier this week, Louisville revealed a series of staff furloughs and pay cuts.