Budget shortfall forces deep cuts in Ohio State sports program

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s athletic department will cut 25 jobs, furlough hundreds of other employees and ask coaches and others to take 5% pay cuts to help grapple with a projected $107 million budget deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, athletic director Gene Smith said Wednesday.

Some of that money will be made up by television revenue from football, but that amount is yet to be determined, Smith said. Ohio State is scheduled to play at least nine games beginning Oct. 24.

Firm numbers are elusive, Smith said, because all football games may not be played if there is a virus outbreak and the framework of the basketball season is yet to be determined. Among the other “moving parts” is whether other fall sports will play their seasons in the spring.

“Our budget is uncertain,” Smith said. “You have the numbers, but I might just be quite frank with you – they mean nothing at this point relative to accuracy.”

Unlike fellow Big Ten members Minnesota and Iowa, Ohio State will not cut any of its 36 intercollegiate sports. The proposed $180 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 includes $25 million for scholarships, $3.6 million for student-athlete academic support, $3 million for meals and nutrition, and $1.8 million for sports medicine and sports psychology services.

Schools around the country have cut more than 100 sports from their programs to help deal with budget shortfalls from the pandemic, including at least 84 at Division I programs.

Smith said 47 contracted employees at Ohio State, which includes coaches, will be asked to take 5% salary cuts, but it is not clear how many have agreed.

Football coach Ryan Day has a salary package that amounts to about $5.4 million this year, but the reduction would be against his base salary of $850,000, so it would amount to $42,500. Basketball coach Chris Holtmann, whose package is worth $3 million, would give up $27,500 of his $550,000 base.

“That will be their decision,” Smith said. “It is certainly optional because they are contracted, and I anticipate they will. Ryan Day and Chris Holtmann and I had already had conversations.”

Four assistants on Day’s coaching staff make at least $1 million.

Asked whether 5% was asking enough sacrifice of Day and other higher-salaried employees, Smith said he was “100%” comfortable with the number.

“Everybody has their right to an opinion,” he said.

The furloughed employees will have no choice. Ohio State said 345 employees will take furloughs ranging from five days to 60 days, although Smith said the 84 staff members forced to take 60-day furloughs will be deployed elsewhere in the university.

The pandemic has affected all sources of revenue for the athletic department, which is self-sustaining and doesn’t draw on other university funds or taxpayer dollars. The department will lose $64 million in ticket revenue alone.

Vick, Fitzgerald and Suggs among stars on College Football Hall of Fame ballot for 1st time

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Michael Vick, Larry Fitzgerald and Terrell Suggs are among the college football stars who will be considered for induction to the Hall of Fame for the first time this year.

The National Football Foundation released Monday a list of 78 players and nine coaches from major college football who are on the Hall of Fame ballot. There also are 101 players and 32 coaches from lower divisions of college football up for consideration.

Vick, who led Virginia Tech to the BCS championship game against Florida State as a redshirt freshman in 1999, is among the most notable players appearing on the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Vick finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1999. He played one season of college football before being drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001. Vick’s professional career was interrupted when he served 21 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting.

Fitzgerald was the Heisman runner-up in 2003 to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White. He scored 34 touchdowns in just two seasons at Pitt.

Suggs led the nation in sacks with 24 in 2002 for Arizona State.

The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Honors Court and announced in January. Induction into the Atlanta-based hall is the following December.

Alabama freshman DB Mitchell says he wasn’t sure he’d get to play again after arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama defensive back Tony Mitchell said he feared his football career was over after his arrest on a drug charge.

The Crimson Tide freshman said in a video posted Sunday on social media that he knew “something much bigger could have happened.”

A judge in Holmes County, Florida, sentenced Mitchell to three years of probation with a fine and community service on May 24 after Mitchell pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of more than 20 grams of cannabis.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to play football again, but I continued to work out and stay close with the Lord and those who love me unconditionally,” Mitchell said. “During those times, it helped me to keep my mind off it. But when I was by myself looking at social media, what everybody had to say about it, it just felt like it happened again.

“I didn’t sleep at night.”

He was suspended from the Alabama team following the arrest, but Mitchell’s father, Tony Sr., posted on Facebook last week that the defensive back had been reinstated. An Alabama spokesman declined to comment on Mitchell’s status.

Tony Mitchell Sr. shared his son’s video on Facebook, saying it was filmed during a talk to youth.

“I was doing things I knew I shouldn’t to try to fit in,” the younger Mitchell said, “but not everybody’s your friend.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a four-star prospect and the 15th-rated safety in the 247Composite rankings.

He had been charged in March with possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell after a traffic stop when authorities said he drove over 141 mph (227 kph) while trying to evade deputies in the Florida Panhandle. A deputy had spotted Mitchell’s black Dodge Challenger traveling 78 mph (125 kph) in a 55 mph (88 kph) zone on a rural highway north of Bonifay.

He also received 100 hours of community service and paid a fine of $1,560.

Mitchell and a passenger were both charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. The other man also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.