Sports Ed Orgeron volunteers for salary reduction as LSU grapples with monetary impact of COVID-19

06:15  30 october  2020
06:15  30 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

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BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU athletic department laid off employees and announced salary and bonus cuts for coaches, including for head football coach Ed Orgeron, on Thursday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Orgeron, who is the second-highest paid college football coach in the country at $8.9 million for this season, has voluntarily agreed to have his salary reduced by 5% in 2021, as has LSU athletic director Scott Woodward. Orgeron’s current contract year ends Dec. 31.

Orgeron will lose $300,000 over the course of his 2021 contract year, as the 5% will be taken against only his recurring basic annual compensation from the university of $6 million, LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. In 2021, Orgeron also is scheduled to benefit from the second of two $2.5 million life insurance premium payments by the Tiger Athletic Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the LSU athletic department. In addition, he’s set to receive $187,500 to use for personal air travel.

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a person wearing a costume: LSU head coach Ed Orgeron is taking a voluntary salary reduction in 2021. © Christopher Hanewinckel, USA TODAY Sports LSU head coach Ed Orgeron is taking a voluntary salary reduction in 2021.

"I was very willing," Orgeron said of taking a reduction during a regularly scheduled teleconference Thursday. "With the deficit they have, it's understandable."

LSU has projected it will lose $80 million or more because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All athletic department staff earning more than $80,000 a year – excluding coaches under contract – will be subject to a 5% decrease in salary in 2021.

Coaches under contract making more than $80,000 a year do not have to take a 5% decrease in 2021, but they can volunteer to do so.

"I think five percent is very generous on their part," Orgeron said. "I know some of the staff is even going 10 percent or higher. So, I was glad to do it."

In addition to Orgeron, baseball coach Paul Mainieri, who makes $1.2 million a year, has volunteered to cut 5% of his salary in 2021.

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All bonus money in the contracts of coaches in all sports will not be awarded in 2021, the athletic department also said.

"LSU Athletics announced a compensation reduction plan to help mitigate the impact of an expected $80 million loss in revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic," said a statement from Woodward's office. "The department initiated several costs savings measures since March, and today announced the additional step of a department-wide reduction in compensation."

Orgeron’s total compensation for 2020 dramatically increased from $4 million, not including bonuses, in 2019 early this year after the Tigers won the national championship.

Only Alabama coach Nick Saban made more than Orgeron at $9,300,000 before LSU's cuts.

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Woodward's salary is $1.5 million a year. With a 5% cut, his salary in 2021 will be reduced by $75,000.

Mainieri's salary would likely be cut by $60,000.

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LSU did not announce what employees were laid off.

"In addition to this compensation reduction plan, the department made the difficult but necessary decision to restructure certain functions and eliminate several positions," the athletic department statement read. "These efforts were made to streamline productivity, eliminate redundancies and create efficiencies throughout the department."

Any new hires, position replacements, promotions or equity adjustments will not be made unless approved by the athletic department in essential situations through June 30, 2023, the statement added.

"LSU athletics believes that we will successfully weather this current crisis," the athletic department statement concluded. "Moreover, these difficult decisions will lead to a stronger, more stable Department of Athletics in the years ahead that will continue to allow our programs and our student-athletes to flourish."

LSU's football program will not suffer any significant cuts, according to Orgeron.

"The thing I like about it is they didn't cut anything from the football team," he said. "Nothing from my athletes. We're still traveling the same way. We still have the same amount of food."

LSU (2-2) travels to play Auburn (3-2) Saturday.

"They never asked us anything about cutting things that are important to our football players," Orgeron said. "And I think that's the most important thing. I want the best for the players – the best food and the best facilities, best uniforms. And we have that. So they're giving us the best that they can."

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This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Ed Orgeron volunteers for salary reduction as LSU grapples with monetary impact of COVID-19

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