Coburn: ‘No doubt’ that furloughs to come in FSU athletics

Florida State athletics director David Coburn told the school’s Board of Trustees on Friday morning that furloughs in the athletics department are likely in the near future.

The athletics department and Seminole Boosters, Inc., laid off 25 employees and coaches like Mike Norvell, Leonard Hamilton and Sue Semrau took salary cuts as part of budget reductions due to coronavirus. Coburn has also frozen non-essential vacant positions and looked at ways to reduce expenses.

“We are also continuing to evaluate the implementation of furloughs throughout the department but I will say there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to have to do that fairly soon,” Coburn said.

Coburn cited increased costs due to COVID-19, from screening and testing to cleaning, which he thinks will add up to $2 million in the current fiscal year. He also pointed to $11 million in lost revenue. While Coburn did not directly reference it, that figure is likely a result of social distancing within Doak Campbell Stadium on game days.

He expects FSU will kick off against Georgia Tech on Saturday with between 19,000-20,000 fans, which will include a smaller group of Marching Chiefs as well as approximately 4,000 students.

ESPN will use FSU’s production teams for most of the home football games, Coburn said. Students in the school of Communications are a major component of Seminole Productions. FSU’s radio broadcasts for road games will be done remotely from the athletics center.

Coburn also thanked VP of research Dr. Gary Ostrander and the efforts of the school’s COVID-19 lab that has helped athletics return to the field this fall. Football, soccer and volleyball players will be tested three times in game weeks while cross country runners will be tested twice, Coburn said.

Athletics officials are still deciding on how many fans and students can be in the stands for FSU soccer and volleyball, but Coburn said there will be some seats available.

Coburn said Ashton Henderson, Assistant Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development, is leading a group that is developing courses to advise athletes on name, image and likeness legislation that is to be in place in Florida effective July 1, 2021.

The NCAA has a recruiting dead period through Sept. 30. Coburn thinks that will be extended on a month-by-month basis through the fall.