Alabama athletics reducing operating budget 22 percent

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports
Alabama has cut its athletic budget to deal with anticipated revenue shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including restricted attendance at football games at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This image is from the fourth quarter of the 2019 game vs. Western Carolina. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

The University of Alabama athletics department is reducing its operating budget by 22 percent and has imposed a hiring freeze for positions other than countable coaches, among other cost-cutting measures.

UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne outlined the measures to Tide Pride members in a letter sent via email Thursday evening, a copy of which was obtained by The Tuscaloosa News. The letter said due to the 80 percent reduction on seating capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium and fewer home football games, “the athletics department is facing a potential $75 million revenue shortfall.”

Other cost-cutting measures outlined in the email include “expenditures limited to essential purchases only,” and, “implementation of multiyear staff reduction and compensation containment plan.”

Byrne said in the letter, “These steps have resulted in budget reductions in excess of $16 million with further savings planned.”

Two programs that could be impacted by hiring freezes are the baseball and gymnastics teams. UA baseball lost volunteer assistant Matt Reida to an assistant coach position at Pitt, creating a vacancy that may not be filled during the freeze on all hires other than countable coaches. UA gymnastics no longer has volunteer assistant coach Aja Sims listed on its coaching staff, leaving it open to the same shortcoming.

Greg Byrne greets legendary running back Shaun Alexander on the sidelines before Alabama's 59-31 victory over Ole Miss Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

The football team could be impacted the same way with its analysts, should it lose any after the 2020 football season. It has several who could be viable candidates for on-field assistant jobs elsewhere this offseason, including Mike Stoops, Major Applewhite and Charlie Strong.

Byrne’s letter stated the Crimson Tide Foundation established the Crimson Core Fund in response to pandemic-related financial challenges, a fund that helps cover the costs of essential student-athletes services.

The letter also pointed out Tide Pride donations account for 40 percent of UA’s annual athletics revenue.

“Your philanthropic support is vital to our operation,” Byrne said in the letter. “While we recognize that the financial impacts of the pandemic have been widespread, I hope you will consider a donation of any amount fo the Crimson Core Fund through an outright gift or a conversion of your previous TIDE PRIDE and ticket payments.”