Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Pandemic brings deep losses, hastens demise of 2 sports at Furman

Staff Report //May 19, 2020//

Pandemic brings deep losses, hastens demise of 2 sports at Furman

Staff Report //May 19, 2020//

Listen to this article

Citing a multimillion-dollar deficit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Furman University is cutting salaries, implementing furloughs and eliminating baseball and men’s lacrosse.

Reductions include the salaries of President Elizabeth Davis and other senior administrators, according to a university news release.

Davis laid blame squarely on the new coronavirus.

“As we all know from our shared experience, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust us into a global crisis we could not have imagined six months ago,” she said in the news release. “We are taking these steps to ensure that our university can thrive and continue to carry out its academic mission at the highest level of quality and engagement.”

University leaders are working on plans to return this fall for in-person instruction, the news release said. Senior leadership and emergency management teams, together with a task force of trustees, have been meeting since January to address urgent and long-term issues related to the pandemic.

“Although our fall semester might feel different than usual, I’m looking forward to welcoming first-year and returning students back to campus for a uniquely Furman experience,” Davis said in the release.

After shifting to remote instruction in March, the university refunded millions in room and board and other fees while incurring new costs related to the pandemic, such as increased technology support, the release said. The cancellation of camps and conferences, performances and other events through the summer resulted in additional losses. At the same time, the value of the university’s endowment dropped by more than $100 million as the global economy and markets experienced downturns.

The university is also expected a drop in enrollment this fall.

“The combined losses in tuition and other revenues, along with the added costs of the pandemic, are expected to result in a multimillion-dollar deficit for Furman in the coming fiscal year,” the news release said.

The university had taken several money-saving steps already, including a construction and hiring freeze. On Monday, the university announced additional measures, including:

  • A voluntary 20% salary reduction for the president and a voluntary 10% salary reduction for the vice presidents, athletics director, head coaches for football and men’s basketball, and other highly compensated employees.
  • A 5.5% reduction in operating budgets for the next fiscal year.
  • A reduction of 2.5 percentage points in Furman’s contribution to employee retirement plans.
  • Summer furloughs for employees with diminished workloads, and two weeks of furloughs for all other employees to be taken during the next fiscal year.
  • Discontinuing the baseball and men’s lacrosse programs immediately, and reducing the total number of athletics scholarships by 45 over the next five years, with the reductions spread across multiple sports.

According to the news release, Furman already was “in the process of developing a comprehensive long-term strategy for its athletics programs in alignment with its investment in its academic mission and vision.” That strategy was accelerated by the financial impacts of the pandemic, the release said.

Furman will honor the scholarships of current and incoming student athletes in baseball and men’s lacrosse for the remainder of their undergraduate academic careers at Furman, and assist them with transferring to another institution if they decide to do so, the release said.

“None of these decisions was easy or made lightly,” Davis said. “But I can say with great sincerity that each was carefully considered and adopted in the interest of advancing the university and fulfilling its academic mission.”