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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas State Athletic Director Terry Mohajir said 30 ASU athletic personnel — including himself and all 11 of the school’s head coaches — have elected to take a pay cut for a two-month period. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

Arkansas State University Athletic Director Terry Mohajir detailed on Wednesday multiple cost-cutting measures the Red Wolves' athletic department is undergoing.

The effort to tighten its budget, including reductions of coaches' salaries and in budgets for team travel and recruiting, is in response to a drop in revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're looking at everything," Mohajir said in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "Any initiative that we have is on the table for cost-cutting measures."

Mohajir said of the 46 athletics personnel who have a personal service agreement with the Red Wolves Foundation -- meaning part of their salary is supplemented directly with foundation money -- 30 voluntarily have elected to take a pay cut for a two-month period.

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Those taking reductions include Mohajir and all 11 of ASU's head coaches, including football Coach Blake Anderson, men's basketball Coach Mike Balado and women's basketball Coach Matt Daniel. A number of assistant coaches across various sports are included, such as offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf and defensive coordinator David Duggan from football.

"We're obviously all on the same team, and I'm on board to help," Balado said in a statement via a school spokesman.

The percentages of pay reductions from the foundation vary, but Mohajir, for example, said he's taking a cut of more than 50%.

Mohajir said more than $650,000 of Anderson's $825,000 annual salary is supplemented by the Red Wolves Foundation. Anderson -- who's easily the athletic department's highest-paid employee -- is taking a roughly 20% reduction from the foundation for the next two months, Mohajir said.

"It's significant," Mohajir said. "It helps us tremendously."

As far as those pay cuts extending beyond the next two months, Mohajir said that's an uncertainty.

"We're doing that right now to help the bottom line once we work through the renewal period," he said.

Mohajir and the athletic department also are planning on reducing the travel budget for teams' road trips next season, with limited flights and more bus trips. Specifically for basketball, Mohajir said he is focusing on scheduling more regional nonconference games with shorter trips.

ASU's men's and women's basketball schedules won't be finalized for a while, but Mohajir said the Red Wolves already have eliminated many flights.

Mohajir said the men's basketball team has only one flight planned for nonconference play next season, while the women's team will bus everywhere during the nonconference slate. The number of flights for conference games is undecided.

Mohajir said the men's team will have a "buy game" at Texas Tech next season -- although that has not been officially announced yet -- in which the Red Wolves will travel via airplane.

"We're getting paid $99,500 to play in that game," Mohajir said. "We'll fly every day of the week if we can make money."

The women's team will have a "buy game" at Iowa -- which also hasn't been announced -- for which Mohajir said the team will take a bus for the eight-hour-plus trip. Normally, the team would have flown to that game.

"Eliminating a lot of plane flights have helped reduce costs," Mohajir said. "Obviously because of the NCAA rule, we're not probably taking summer school classes like we usually do. That'll save us significant dollars.

"Because of some of the recruiting dead periods, and some of the cancellations of tournaments later in the summer, we'll take a little bit of reduction in recruiting areas. Obviously football didn't go out in May at all, so that was a significant reduction there. Just those type of things.

"Looking at food, looking at hotels, how we're buying food, what kind of food are we buying when we go on the road -- just being very fiscally conscious on everything that we spend, everything that we make triage decisions on based on priority ... for every sport."

The football team still is expected to fly to nearly all of its road games next season -- a schedule that includes trips to Ann Arbor, Mich., Conway, S.C., Boone, N.C., Lafayette, La., and San Marcos, Texas -- although Mohajir said the athletic department did look into the possibility of traveling via bus to Louisiana-Lafayette.

"I don't think it's gonna work out because it's a Thursday night, and I want the kids back in class on Friday," he said.

The Red Wolves' season opener is scheduled for Sept. 5 at Memphis, just a short trip down the road from Jonesboro. College football teams almost always travel to road games the day before kickoff.

But now?

"We'll probably go the day of the game," Mohajir said in regard to Memphis.

The Armageddon scenario of cutting sports programs is something a few athletic departments around the country have already implemented. A month ago, the University of Cincinnati -- a member of the American Athletic Conference -- announced it was slashing its men's soccer program.

Mohajir said there are no current plans to cut any of ASU's sports programs.

"I would tell you that everything is on the table, but as of right now, we're just finishing up this fiscal year's budget, and we just finished up [Wednesday] our [fiscal year] '21 budget," Mohajir said. "I just submitted it to our budget office [Wednesday]."

Mohajir also said Wednesday that ASU plans to have its football players back on campus June 1.

Sports on 05/14/2020


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