ECU AD John Gilbert

ECU athletic director John Gilbert at the podium during a press conference.

The East Carolina University Board of Trustees Athletics Committee met Thursday morning to discuss the university’s projected revenue reductions for athletics moving toward the fiscal year.

Director of Athletics Jon Gilbert began the meeting with a review of operational metrics and said the Pirate Club had a downfall in funds for athletics and numbers may continue to drain throughout the fiscal school year.

Football fees and ticket sales started with a goal of $16,000 and sits today at $10,600, according to Gilbert. He said the goal was lowered to $10,000 when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

“(In) March we dealt with a pandemic and uncertainty of how we were proceeding athletically. I am pleased with the months of May and June as it relates to the Pirate Club annual fund,” Gilbert said.

The Athletics Committee anticipated a $7.5 million loss in revenue, according to Gilbert. He said at the March 17 meeting the committee assessed finances and saw an anticipated increase of revenue loss to around $12 million.

Gilbert said since March the committee has decreased the operating deficit and hopes to come back down to a $7.5 million loss. To accommodate the deficit, the athletics committee had to make reductions to other elements of the athletics program, according to Gilbert.

The athletic director salary faced a reduction of $100,000, according to Gilbert. Gilbert said the entire athletic staff was furloughed for five days which saved $300,000.

“We are going to have to find ways to increase revenue and continue to cut costs and be more efficient. Fall could bring additional furloughs for the athletic department,” Gilbert said.

ECU is going under a new ESPN contract which will bring production costs of about $500,000, according to Gilbert. He said the new contract will have ESPN production in-house if ECU athletic events are not picked up on linear channels.

Gilbert said 270 student athletes, coaches and staff have been tested for COVID-19 with 16 positive cases. He said some of the individuals are asymptomatic but will undergo testing protocol and quarantine.

The health, safety and well being of student athletes is a priority, according to Gilbert. Gilbert said the committee budgets $100,000 in COVID-19 sanitation for the fall.

“I think that number is just a placeholder. It could increase significantly depending on what the fall looks like,” Gilbert said.

The capacity for Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium for the football season will be contingent on what is dictated by health officials, according to Gilbert. He said he will work with the University of North Carolina (UNC) System office and Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson to decide how capacity will be implemented.

Gilbert said he is confident in the coming weeks that a concise plan will surface with more information on how Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium will run in the fall. He said the Athletics Committee will continue to play around with capacity percentages but there is no definite answer on what those numbers will look like.

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