The nonprofit Razorback Foundation Inc., the private fundraising arm that raises millions of dollars in support of the University of Arkansas athletics department, announced Monday (Aug. 31) a call for donations to specifically help with additional costs due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
All contributions to the “One Razorback Fund” are tax deductible, according to a news release.
“In times of uncertainty, Razorbacks unite, and I have no doubt, we will do that now,” UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek said in a statement. “Our student-athletes continue to work every day to achieve their goals of earning their college degree and competing at the highest level, despite the many challenges they are currently facing. The One Razorback Fund is a perfect way for us to join together to help meet the needs of our student-athletes while ensuring we remain competitive with our SEC peers.”
The canceled spring 2020 seasons and reduced capacity for fall 2020 sports — primarily football — will create a significant revenue shortfall that will impact all sports.
The annual investment for nearly 470 student-athletes at the UA is more than $30 million, according to the Razorback Foundation. That includes scholarships, nutrition, physical and mental health, academic support, career counseling, maintaining facilities for ongoing athletic training and competition and other expenses.
This year, additional expenses will be incurred because of the pandemic. An additional $500,000 investment for financial aid will also be required to support the 22 seniors who chose to return for another year after their seasons were cut short last spring. The NCAA Division I Council voted in March to grant an extra year of eligibility to all student-athletes in spring sports whose seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UA athletic department has already cut millions from its operating budget to combat the significant revenue loss due to the pandemic, resulting in canceled games and reduced stadium capacities.
The Razorback Foundation also made similar budget reductions. Budget cuts include staff compensation reductions, travel restrictions and imposing a hiring freeze, all while still ensuring that Razorback student-athletes remain the top priority.
The UA athletic department is one of only a handful of athletic programs in the nation that is financially self-sustaining, receiving no money from state or taxpayer funding or university funding. It relies on ticket sales, sponsorships and donations.