As USC braces for a potentially significant economic downturn in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the university’s athletic director and its two highest-paid coaches have committed to return a sizable portion of their salaries as a show of support for the school.
Athletic director Mike Bohn, football coach Clay Helton, and men’s basketball coach Andy Enfield will return a combined $1 million of compensation to USC, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
The decision comes as college administrators and athletics officials across the country take similar pay reductions to soften what could be a serious blow to higher education. With campuses closed and college sports shut down for the foreseeable future, the scope of that financial strain remains uncertain.
USC President Carol L. Folt accepted a 20% salary reduction early last month, as part of announced cuts, which also included a hiring freeze and a pause on capital construction.
“We need to make some tough calls right now to address the serious financial consequences we face,” USC provost Charles Zukoski and Chief Financial Officer Jim Staten wrote in a joint letter at the time. “This is a monumental health crisis.”
In her state of the university address on Wednesday, Folt warned that USC faces a projected operational deficit of $300 million to $500 million through June 2021.
College athletics, in particular, could find itself in crisis this fall, with the status of the upcoming college football season in doubt. The cancellation of the NCAA tournament already made for a serious financial hit to athletic departments across the nation, as the NCAA distributed $375 million less than expected to its member schools.
As a private university, USC is not required to disclose the salaries of its employees. According to a federal tax return filed by the school, Helton was paid about $3.2 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year, while Enfield made nearly $2.8 million during that time. Salary figures for Bohn, who was hired in November, remain unknown.