Suspended Play in Sports at Arkansas Extends Beyond Coaches, Athletes

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FAYETTEVILLE, AR – SEPTEMBER 14: Arkansas Razorback football team walks to the stadium and greets fans before a game against Colorado State Rams at Razorback Stadium on September 14, 2019 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

FAYETTEVILLE — When the NCAA suspended play this week due to the coronavirus obviously the first thing in everyone’s minds are the coaches and players, but it actually goes beyond that.

Hunter Yurachek, University of Arkansas’ vice-chancellor and director of athletics, addressed some of the other issues on Friday evening. For one, he talked the hourly workers and stadium employees and if they would be compensated during this time.

“We are looking into that,” Yurachek said. “Obviously there’s tremendous financial implications for us, from a budgetary standpoint. We’re not worried about necessarily the finances, but we are going to try to take care of as many people like that. Our Landmark people have been very, very good to us and how hard they work and I know they’re dependent, some of them as their primary source of income, for that revenue, so we’re going to work with Landmark to see how we can support them.”

Also, the fans who have bought tickets for spring sports. Yurachek talked about how that would be handled as well.

“We have some information in place where we will provide refunds through everything scheduled through April 15 at this point in time, and then we’ll address after April 15, and that can be in the way of a full refund or either credits to future ticket purchases,” Yurachek said.

Yurachek was also asked if the UA had insurance in place to cover some financial hits like this that weren’t expected or planned?

“Our CFO, Clayton Hamilton, is starting to run those numbers on what those financial implications could be,” Yurachek said. “I mean, obviously there’s going to be lost revenue as we refund baseball and softball season tickets and single-game tickets that have been purchased in advance. There will also be some expense saving on the side. We won’t be chartering to any away games for the foreseeable future, we won’t be using hotel rooms, there won’t be per diem and money on food and things of that nature. There will be some expense saving, but there’s also going to be some losses in revenue that we’re going to have to address. But we’ve done a great job over the course of the last five years or so building up reserves. That’s what reserves are for, for I guess you call them a rainy day fund. This is surely a rainy day.”

Expanded rosters and additional year of play for some athletes in spring sports is also being discussed. That also will bring some financial implications with it.

“I do believe we can financially handle that, and we understand that those implications could be there,” Yurachek said. “Because if you increase your roster size and scholarship size, obviously there’s a budget implication for that.”

Some building projects are also going on such as at Baum-Walker Stadium. Will that be impacted by this?

“That would be a great question to ask the construction companies,” Yurachek said. “I hope not. I hope they’re still working on those projects. Those are university projects, but we have outside general contractors that are building those facilities. I’d hope they would continue, but I think it’s inevitable that there will probably be an interruption in those projects as they protect the welfare and health of their workers, as well.”

Yurachek once again praised how Greg Sankey has handled this situation.

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