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Hiring freeze for WSU athletics as conference grapples with Comcast overpayment

System president Kirk Schulz also blamed higher than expected costs to move the conference HQ out of San Francisco for the cost cutting measures.

Kirk Schulz

In the midst of a television contract negotiation that has dragged on for months in the public sphere, the Pac-12’s member institutions are now having to deal with a massive overpayment from one of their current distributors, Comcast. Washington State University System President Kirk Schulz announced today that, due to a decrease in revenue distribution because of the overpayment, Athletics would be in a hiring freeze and put a halt to all non-essential travel and professional development.

Schulz also noted that relocating the conference headquarters from their massively expensive downtown San Francisco location was more costly than initially projected.

“My fiscal expectations for Cougar Athletics remain the same — an annual balanced operating budget, the development of appropriate reserve funds, and a repayment plan to pay down internal debt,” Schulz said in a release. “As planned, we will also continue to engage in conversations with the Athletics Council in the fall around repayment of accumulated debt.”

Jon Wilner previously reported Comcast is withholding $50 million in payments to the conference through the end of next summer because of the overpayments. Conference CFO Brent Willman and Pac-12 Network President Mark Shuken were fired earlier this year for reportedly knowing about the overpayments but not making conference leadership more broadly aware of the problem. As a result, each school should lose about $4 million in revenue this year, according to Wilner.

Alarmingly, Schulz also noted that the university expects the Athletic department “exceeded its expenditures for the year due to inadequate documentation of revenues and expenses”. WSU will now undertake a review of what caused the deficit and should have a report ready for the June Board of Regents meeting. Schulz did not provide further detail on what problems executive vice president of finance and and administration Leslie Brunelli would look into when it comes to the expenditure issue.