Gary Barta: Iowa's financial situation still 'catastrophic' despite Big Ten decision to play 2020 football
IOWA CITY, Ia. — With the Big Ten Conference reversing course and deciding to play football in the fall of 2020, the first question on the minds of many is how much of schools' projected financial losses can be recouped.
Even with no fans in the stands, the thought was that having the games on television would bring back a significant revenue stream previously lost without football.
At Iowa, that discussion largely centered on the four sports that were cut: men's tennis, men's gymnastics, and men's and women's swimming and diving. That move garnered much more attention than budget cuts and furloughs within the athletic department. Gary Barta, though, was quick to say Thursday those sports will remain axed — and that the Hawkeyes' overall financial situation is still dire in spite the return to the gridiron.
"I spoke with our staff (Wednesday)," Barta said in a Thursday video conference with media. "The position eliminations, the furloughs, the salary reductions, including the four sports no longer continuing at Iowa, are all still in place. Those decisions won't change, because the financial crisis is certainly still in play. And the (losses) are still going to be very significant.
"We are going to have more revenue at the end because having these games televised will bring more revenue. But it will be a much reduced amount, because we're not playing a full schedule. With no fans, we don't have ticket revenue. We don't have the donations that go with the seats. And we're going to have much reduced revenue in all other categories."
Barta had previously estimated a deficit between $60 and 75 million with no football season. He wouldn't go as far as pinpointing a specific number that would be recouped — the way Michigan State athletic director Bill Beekman did in saying the Spartans would go from a $30 to $45 million deficit to breaking even. More so, Barta emphasized Iowa will still be staring down a dark financial hole.
Barta said increased expenses will come with daily testing, costs associated with potential quarantining and additional travel to avoid coronavirus issues.
"Maybe our deficit goes from $75 million to $60 million or $55 million," Barta said. "The deficit that we will take on this year is going to be — I hate to use the word catastrophic — but that's really what it is. I say catastrophic because it led to people losing their jobs. It led to people taking paycuts. It led to student athletes in four sports not having an opportunity (at Iowa) after this year.
"It will be better, but far from relief."
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.