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Utah football season-ticket holders encouraged to reinvest 2020 payments as Ute athletics budget burned

Fall sports postponements expected to prove quite costly — a projected revenue loss of $55-$60 million.

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Mark Harlan, the new athletic director at the University of Utah, talks during an interview at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 29, 2018.

James Wooldridge, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to offset major financial losses associated with the postponement of fall sports to the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Utah athletic department has announced the “#ReinvestInU” campaign.

Mark Harlan, director of athletics, sent a letter to football season ticket holders on Thursday to express the “tremendous need to continue providing vital support for student-athletes in the wake of the postponement of fall sports in 2020.” He did so while expressing gratitude for dedication and loyalty to the program.

“During these unprecedented times, many of us within Utah athletics have reflected on just how fortunate we are to be surrounded by more than 500 dedicated, passionate and hard-working student-athletes as they pursue their dreams and aspirations,” Harlan explained. “But we are also thinking of all of you, our most loyal supporters, who continually invest in our students’ academic and athletics success through your ticket purchases and donations. Thank you for always being there for our student-athletes, coaches and staff.”

Dubbed as an initiative, Utah football season ticket holders are encouraged to consider reinvesting their 2020 payments into a tax-deductible donation to the athletic department. Other options include designating part of the payment as a donation, applying the payment to 2021 tickets or receiving a full refund.

In his letter, Harlan noted that Utah’s student-athletes had a record-setting spring semester academically and that the highest level of support exists for all aspects of development.

“As our student-athletes continue to do their part, we need to do ours. Utah athletics, like many of our peers, is facing an unprecedented financial challenge as we navigate the impacts of this pandemic,” Harlan said. “At this time, we anticipate a $55-60 million revenue loss just in this fiscal year alone. We are prepared to weather this storm, in part because of your generosity through the years, along with difficult but necessary cost-saving measures within the department.”

Football season ticket holders have until Sept. 4 to decide what to do.

“Your donations are essential to sustaining our academic success and preserving our competitive momentum for over 500 student-athletes,” Harlan continued in his request. “Donations, such as the season-ticket cost, are tax-deductible, and those made during this challenging time come with additional incentives, in appreciation for the financial commitment that we are asking of you.”