Smith, Underwood, Whitman all agree to voluntary pay cuts due to COVID-19 shortfalls


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois football coach Lovie Smith, men’s basketball coach Brad Underwood and athletic director Josh Whitman have all agreed to take a voluntary 10 percent pay cut for six months, starting with the upcoming fiscal year. The announcement was made by Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones in a Massmail release sent to employees on Tuesday afternoon.

“So far, based on projections into this July, the estimated financial COVID-19 costs to our university in terms of additional expenditures, lost revenue and fee adjustments exceed $81 million,” Jones wrote. “This estimate is expected to grow as we move through the summer and into the fall. In particular, we must anticipate and plan for potential tuition losses due to pandemic-imposed restrictions on residential programs, ability of international students to travel and attendance decisions by our returning students.”

The pay reductions for three of Illinois athletics’ most prominent faces, according to their contracts, are:

Lovie Smith: $200,000
Brad Underwood: $170,000
Josh Whitman: $38,750

“Out of our personal commitment to demonstrating that shared responsibility, I, along with all five of our vice chancellors, have volunteered to take a 10 percent pay reduction for the next six months,” Jones added. “This savings will be directed specifically to our Illinois Cares: COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund to assist students in need. And I am very proud to announce that Director of Athletics Josh Whitman, Coach Lovie Smith and Coach Brad Underwood have stepped forward and volunteered to take the same reduction.”

In addition, Jones announced several new initiatives to save the university money, including curtailing hiring, reducing travel and related expenses, reducing non-personnel expenses and slowing down or postponing capital projects, except for those that are strategically vital and those already in process. Jones added no furloughs, pay reductions and layoffs, or across the board budget cuts are in the works, as of now.


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