TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Arizona Athletics has announced Head Football Coach Kevin Sumlin has been relieved of his duties. And some current and former University of Arizona employees are not happy about it – because of pay cuts and layoffs the university has faced this year.
Sumlin has a large 7 million dollar buyout that he could collect, and employees are asking for transparency in where that money is coming from.
“Kevin sumlin was there for two years I worked in the athletics department for 32 years he walks out with a $7 million golden parachute,” said Steve Kozachik, a former University of Arizona Athletics Employee and Tucson city council member.
Last month, 21 University of Arizona athletics department employees were laid off. The department cited COVID-19 induced financial problems as the reason they let those employees go.
“Merry Christmas to the athletics department,” said Kozachik. “There are now 21 people that they let go a month ago that are wondering how they are going to pay their rent. It kind of puts the lie to the notion that they couldn’t afford me of the others that they axed.”
It is still unclear exactly where the money to pay Sumlin will come from. My request for an interview was denied by the athletic department. They also did not respond to my request for comment.
“Our message to folks at the top of athletics is maybe we shouldn’t have these contracts where someone who ends up having a really poor track record ends up getting rewarded,” said Celeste Gonzalez de Bustamante, a member of the Coalition for Academic Justice.
Sumlin is not the first coach to be bought out of his contract, the Wildcats last head coach Rich Rodriguez received nearly $6.3 million after he was fired. The Arizona board of regents said that money did not come from tuition dollars or public funds.
“I would ask those boosters how is that you’re willing to pay for somebody that has such a poor track record and not pay and keep people employed who have given so much service to the university,” said Gonzalez de Bustamante.
Arizona Athletics says the university will honor the terms of Sumlin’s existing contract, including all buyout provisions – with funding from athletics-generated revenue sources.
“This is a tipping point for that athletics department,” said Kozachik. “That place has lost its soul, there are real human impacts to the actions that they take.”