You had discussed taking out loans to cover budget deficits. Does this change that?
We were planning on a $55 million shortfall. And we had worked through all of our numbers — the cuts we’ve made, the salary reductions, the reductions in our operational budget, and some of the other pieces — and it looked like roughly a $20 million loan was what we were going to look for. Depending on how much we receive from our TV partners, it could be no loan at all, if, in fact, we get $20-plus million from our TV partners. That would be great news for us, since we’ve got debt service already. We can balance our numbers with a $55 million loss, so any of the revenue is just going to help us in that pursuit.
I got an email this morning from a former Cal athlete and current donor who is concerned about the future of nonrevenue Olympic sports. Does this decision help keep them viable?
When I started at Cal, the chancellor and I agreed that cutting sports was the absolute last resort. Even in this pandemic year, we had developed a financial plan that allowed us to meet our numbers and support all of our sports — knowing that this is going to be a hard year, but that it was like a V-shape that would come back over the next year or 18 months.
Does more revenue help us support more student-athletes and more sports? Yes, of course. We have worked to continue to support all of our sports. Each one took a reduction in their operational budget as we went into Covid and the postponements. More revenue always helps do a better job supporting everything, but cutting Olympic sports has not been part of our discussions.
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Without fans in the stadium, you might lose millions in ticket revenue. How will playing football impact other budget items, like donations and sponsorships?
We had over a 91 percent season-ticket renewal rate, which was amazing this year. We gave our season-ticket holders options to donate what they’d already put down, roll it to next year, or get a refund. And less than 7 percent of our season-ticket holders asked for a refund.
We’ve all been in limbo saying, well, if there’s no football, here’s the implication with our sponsors. That is what we’re sorting out. We’ve had 12, 14 hours to start working on this. Once we’re down the road a week, and have had conversations with all of our partners, we’ll start to be able to see exactly what the budget implications are of this decision. And then the second- and third-order effects of it.
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