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University of Memphis announces layoffs within athletic department

Commercial Appeal Memphis logo Commercial Appeal Memphis 9/25/2020 Evan Barnes and Mark Giannotto, Memphis Commercial Appeal
a tree in front of a building: Administration Building on the University of Memphis campus. © Mark Weber, The Commercial Appeal Administration Building on the University of Memphis campus.

The University of Memphis announced Friday that it is making significant cuts within its athletic department. 

In a release, the university said 19 full-time employees have been laid off and any salaried employee earning $40,000 or more will be subject to furloughs, effective Oct. 1.

Memphis athletics director Laird Veatch reiterated in a statement how much of a financial impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on the department. Budget projections of a $4.4 million deficit have doubled to a range of $9 to $11.5 million.

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"While we were able to manage some of the projected deficit through cuts to our operational budgets, we have unfortunately been left with limited options and forced to make challenging decisions that impact the lives of our coaches, staff and their families," Veatch said.

Among those affected are assistant athletic director of athletic communications Tammy DeGroff, who told The Commercial Appeal she had been laid off. DeGroff, who has worked at Memphis since 2002 and was a graduate assistant from 1999-2001, also confirmed that several members of her athletic communication staff were among the layoffs.

Sources also confirmed to The Commercial Appeal that Steve Macy, senior associate athletic director of external affairs, was being laid off. Macy has held the position since September 2015.

Employees who are making at least $40,000 will be furloughed equivalent to 10-20% of their salary based on compensation levels from Oct. 1 until the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Those making at least $250,000 will see salaries reduced by 20%. This includes football coach Ryan Silverfield, men's basketball coach Penny Hardaway, women's basketball coach Melissa McFerrin and six football assistant coaches.

There are no plans to eliminate any of the 19 varsity sports programs at Memphis, according to two sources with direct knowledge of situation.

Veach said in his statement that the department saved an additional $2 million due to football season ticket holders who donated to the Keep Memphis Roaring campaign this summer. The campaign gave fans to option of using, donating or deferring the value of their season tickets and parking back to the athletic department,

It did not, however, prevent the blow of having to let go of key personnel.

“This is a sad day for Memphis Athletics, and one that I hoped would never come," Veatch said. "However, we are determined to manage through these difficult times, support our student-athletes and continue to position our programs to maintain the momentum of success established in recent years.”

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You can reach Evan Barnes on Twitter (@Evan_B) or by email at evan.barnes@commercialappeal.com

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: University of Memphis announces layoffs within athletic department

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