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What is the ‘worst case scenario’ for WSU Athletics?

If everything gets canceled this fall, how bad will things get for the Cougar Athletic Department?

NCAA Football: Stanford at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody knows what’s going to happen in the fall.

Hell, no one knows what’s going to happen next week.

The first global pandemic in a century has made jobs more difficult for nearly everyone. But the jobs for people tasked with planning multi-million dollar athletic department budgets for the long-term? That’s become nearly impossible.

That’s what athletic directors, including Washington State’s Pat Chun, have been tasked with working on. Chun has been answering as many questions as he can to media outlets around the region but we all know the biggest questions he’ll have to answer are still looming on the horizon. We just don’t know exactly what those are yet.

“Right now... it’s a hair too early to decide what fall is going to look like, just because there’s no certainty with fall,” Chun told the Seattle Times for a story that ran Tuesday. “So any possible scenario in which we can cut expenses, we’ve looked at. How deep we need to go, that’s the to-be-determined that we’ll work with our campus to figure out.”

Chun did not comment on the possibility that the university might have to cut sports, but it’s something other schools have already done. Since the pandemic, Cincinnati has cut its men’s soccer program, Furman has dropped baseball and men’s lacrosse, while Old Dominion has dropped wrestling.

Obviously, Washington State is trying to avoid as many cuts as possible, and Chun is trying to act now to head off those problems at the pass. Earlier this spring the three largest salaries in the athletic department, including Chun football head coach Nick Rolovich and men’s basketball head coach Kyle Smith agreed to take a temporary pay cut to help out.

But despite the forward thinking and planning, WSU is in a unique spot when it comes to budget, because they’re already on a razor thin budget.

“I always make the statement that we’re the most fiscally efficient athletic department in the country,” Chun told the Seattle Times. “So for us cuts are a little bit different because we operate lean anyways. If we’re more in survival mode this year, what can we do to survive?”

So, what is the worst case scenario for WSU? What happens if the football season is cancelled and this pandemic rages on into the fall?

They’re questions everyone is preparing for, but no one wants to answer. In the end, it could mean the end of some Olympic sports in Pullman and an (even more) razor thin budget for the next few years. Everything is on the table.

Let’s just hope we don’t have to find out what happens.

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