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Ohio State facing projected $107 million deficit, enacts cost-saving plan

Ohio State-Gene Smith-Ohio State athletic director
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is leading the Buckeyes during a challenging time. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Ohio State facing projected $107 million deficit, enacts cost-saving plan

COLUMBUS — Major financial cuts are coming at Ohio State.

And while essentially every employee in the athletic department will be impacted, the cost-saving measures implemented for the Buckeyes are designed to protect every sport the school sponsors.

The school announced its plan on Wednesday morning following the sobering realization that it’s facing a projected deficit of $107 million in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with no current ability to host fans in the Horseshoe for home games this season.

“Our student-athletes are our primary responsibility,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said in a statement. “They have and will continue to come first. We have put together a responsible and conservative budget for this fiscal year, which assumes full support for our student-athletes.

“In the midst of this devastating pandemic, we remain committed to providing a safe and excellent academic and athletic experience for all of our student-athletes.”

Gene Smith-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State athletic director

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is making some tough cuts. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Among the measures to reduce the budget, Ohio State will take the following measures related to personnel in the athletic department:

  • 48 members of the athletic training staff and strength and conditioning staff will have a 5-day intermittent furlough, to be completed between Oct. 6 and June 30, 2021;
  • 213 staff members are assigned to a 10-day intermittent furlough, to be completed between Oct. 6 and June 30, 2021;
  • 84 staff members will go on a 60-day, continuous furlough or redeployment from Oct. 9 through Dec. 31;
  • 47 contracted staff members will be asked to take a voluntary, 5 percent salary reduction between Oct. 1 and June 30, 2021; and
  • A permanent reduction in force will eliminate 25 full-time athletics positions.

Work on the finalized budget is not complete, but Ohio State also is scaling back financially via major expense reductions that include $9.6 million in savings through a short-term restructure on debt, $6.1 million in cuts from sports’ operating budgets, $4 million on administration/support unit operating budgets, $3.4 million in football game-day expenses, $3 million in non-conference game guarantees and $3.0 million in facility operations.

“Like our colleagues in the Big Ten, and across the country, intercollegiate athletics at Ohio State will have to significantly adjust as the pandemic will have a long term impact,” Smith said. “We will implement a long term deficit recovery plan but will continue to focus on serving our student-athletes at the highest level.”

This is a developing story, and Lettermen Row will continue to update it as more information becomes available. Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith is expected to have a press conference later on Wednesday.

Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.