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CU Buffs athletics notes: Tourney runs a boost in prestige for Pac-12

Buffs AD discusses vaccinations, bonuses, more

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - MARCH 30: (L-R) Jaylen Clark #0, Johnny Juzang #3 and Kenneth Nwuba #14 of the UCLA Bruins celebrate after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 51-49 in the Elite Eight round game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 30, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 30: (L-R) Jaylen Clark #0, Johnny Juzang #3 and Kenneth Nwuba #14 of the UCLA Bruins celebrate after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 51-49 in the Elite Eight round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 30, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The $18 to $20 million deficit Colorado Rick George reiterated the Buffaloes athletic department is facing for the 2020-21 fiscal year won’t be cured by the Pac-12 Conference’s impressive performance in the NCAA basketball tournaments.

But these days any financial reprieve is a welcome one, and George recognizes the success the Pac-12 has enjoyed on college basketball’s biggest stages could lead to an even bigger windfall down the road.

On Thursday, CU’s athletic director hosted a sort of “state of the Buffs” virtual press conference, and he addressed the success the league has enjoyed during the basketball postseason. The women’s Final Four will feature two Pac-12 teams in Stanford and Arizona. In the men’s tournament, all five of the Pac-12’s entrants advanced out of the first round, four reached the Sweet 16, and three (Oregon State, USC, UCLA) reached the Elite Eight.

On Tuesday, UCLA advanced to the Final Four, increasing the Pac-12’s per-round haul at 19 units, which equates to about $3.2 million per school spread over a six-year payout period that begins next year.

“From a revenue standpoint, it doesn’t really affect us this year. That’s over a six-year timeframe,” George said. “We won’t see the impact of that in this fiscal year. We’ll see what impact it has on next fiscal year. But I think from a perception standpoint, our conference has made a significant statement. I think the reputation of our conference has taken a positive hit, which I think is important.

“We had a short season in football and I kind of get that. I didn’t really get the basketball piece on why we didn’t get more positive thoughts on our conference, and the quality of basketball in our conference.”

Vaccination nation

With eligibility parameters for COVID-19 vaccinations expanding, George said that while he hopes CU’s athletes will get vaccinated as quickly as possible, it is not something that will be mandated by the athletic department. George also revealed he recently received his vaccination.

“It’s going to be up to the individual to make the decision,” George said. “We’re going to strongly encourage that. I was fortunate. On the first day I was able to get in when my group came up and I’m totally vaccinated. We’re going to encourage our student-athletes and our staff to get vaccinated, but it’s certainly an individual decision and we will respect that decision. That’s kind of where we are on that.”

Bonus time

George reiterated the athletic department plans to pay its coaches for any performance incentive bonuses required by contractual agreements. When asked if any coaches have offered to decline any bonuses, as men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle did last year when offered his NCAA Tournament bonus for a competition that was canceled, George didn’t specifically answer but also didn’t indicate any coach has offered to make that sacrifice.

Last year, though the tournament was canceled due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, George offered Boyle his $105,000 bonus due for making the tournament field, but Boyle declined the payment. This spring, Boyle is due $290,000 in performance bonuses, including the same $105,000 for reaching the NCAA Tournament. Boyle collected $80,000 during the regular season, with a $30,000 payment for the 15th regular season win, $20,000 for the 17th regular season win, and $30,000 for the 19th regular season win. Boyle also earned $75,000 for reaching the Pac-12 tournament semifinals and another $30,000 for reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Notable
George said that, to date, CU has conducted 14,395 COVID-19 tests, with only 92 positives – a rate of 0.64%. … The NCAA has been in a recruiting dead period (no in-person recruiting) throughout the pandemic, but that is set to expire May 31. Although the dead period has been extended several times in the past year, George is optimistic that the NCAA will transition to a “quiet” period on June 1, which doesn’t allow coaches to go on the road to recruit, but will allow recruits to visit campus.