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FSU's Coburn on athletics budgets: 'God help us' if football season axed

Athletics director David Coburn told the Florida State University Board of Trustees on Friday that his staff is working on numerous cost-saving measures to help offset millions of dollars in losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The athletics department, which already has seen all spring sports canceled, is also working on several scenarios for what the athletics department budget could look like for the 2020-21 academic year.

"I don't think any of them will be pretty," Coburn told the trustees during a video teleconference. "One of them will be a scenario without football. And I would just say God help us if that is the scenario."

That grim outlook would be shared by athletics departments around the country.

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Coburn said ACC schools lost an estimated $2.2 million to $2.5 million apiece due to the cancellations of the conference and NCAA basketball tournaments. The losses would be in the tens of millions without football, which funds the majority of sports in college athletics budgets.

With all college sports still on hiatus -- and campuses currently closed to students -- it is not yet known whether college football will be played as scheduled, if it will be delayed until the spring, or if it will be scrapped altogether.

Even if the seasons are played as scheduled, there are expected to be major losses in ticket sales and other revenue.

While several other universities have announced reductions in salaries of the highest-paid coaches and administrators, Coburn mentioned no such actions on Friday.

* Schoffel: Crisis only speeds up financial concerns facing college sports

From an overall university perspective, FSU President John Thrasher assured the trustees several times Friday that the university's financial footing is still solid despite the crisis.

"Right now, we're in sound shape," Thrasher said. "We have not had to furlough anybody. We have not had to lay off anybody."

He said he hopes that will remain the case moving forward, although the university has had a hiring freeze in place since March.

Thrasher said FSU is scheduled to receive $30 million in federal money as part of the government's economic recovery package.

"We will be OK going into the fall, I can assure you of that," Thrasher said, before acknowledging that the future could be cloudy if the campus is unable to open the campus to students in the fall.

Like virtually all universities, FSU students finished the spring semester online, and the school will continue to operate that way throughout the summer.

Thrasher said a decision doesn't have to be made about bringing students back this fall until July at the latest. But if students don't return in August, Thrasher said, it will have a "big impact on the budget for next year."

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