UFC 249 was canceled Thursday after ESPN and parent company Disney stopped UFC President Dana White’s plan to keep fighting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After defiantly vowing for weeks to maintain a regular schedule of fights while the rest of the sports world halted, White announced the decision to cease competition on ESPN, the UFC’s broadcast partner.
UFC 249 was scheduled for April 18 on ESPN Plus pay-per-view, and White planned to follow it with weekly fight cards from Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino on tribal land in California’s Central Valley.
White said he “got a call from the highest level you can go at Disney and the highest level of ESPN” asking him to cancel the shows. The UFC moved to ESPN in 2019 with a reported $1.5 billion deal.
White’s frustration with the decision was obvious after he had repeatedly vowed to fight on amid mixed public opinion. The UFC boss still remained upbeat, vowing to be “the first sport back” after the pandemic eases.
Louisville to implement pay cuts
Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra said head coaches and senior department staffers will take 10% salary cuts among proposed budget reductions to offset anticipated revenue shortfalls because of event cancellations.
Tyra said during a conference call that his department aims to trim about $15 million from the proposed 2020-21 budget. That includes 10% salary reductions for men’s basketball coach Chris Mack, football coach Scott Satterfield, women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz and baseball coach Dan McDonnell, whose combined salaries for next year total about $10 million, the AD said. Tyra added that cuts were being discussed in other areas but did not provide any details.
The AD also said he will forego his $150,000 bonus the next two years and other compensation. Tyra added that some coaches voluntarily cut their salaries, with contracts amended to reflect the reductions — though he did not say which coaches. Louisville’s athletic department has also imposed a hiring freeze and despite the savings is considering other cuts, including furloughs.
NBA says players
will receive checks
NBA players will receive their full checks when the next payday for most of them arrives on April 15 despite no games having been played for more than a month at that point.
The league gave teams the directive in a memo that was obtained by The Associated Press.
The league and the National Basketball Players Association has been in talks for weeks about the status of salaries during the game’s shutdown. The last NBA games were played March 11, the day that Utah center Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to test positive for the coronavirus.
The pandemic will lead to the delay of at least 259 regular-season games through April 15, what would have been the end of the regular season. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this week that no decisions about the rest of the season, including whether play can resume, would occur before May.
None of the games have been canceled yet. The playoffs were to begin on April 18, and the losses in revenue should the season either be shortened or not finished could easily reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some Ivy schools deny option to withdraw
Ivy League schools Harvard, Yale and Princeton will not allow their spring athletes to withdraw and return next year to preserve an extra year of eligibility.
It’s not a league-wide decision, though. Other schools are not encouraging seniors to withdraw, but will still allow them that option if they choose to.
The Ivy League decided last week not to allow its spring-sport athletes who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility as graduates, despite the NCAA granting that option earlier in the week. So withdrawing was a potential choice for a senior to get to play one more season next year.
The move was consistent for the Ivy League with its policies. The conference hasn’t allowed athletes to participate in any sports as graduates. The Ivy League schools aren’t the only ones not allowing a fifth-year to their spring athletes. Wisconsin also has decided not to pursue waivers extending the eligibility of its seniors.
Ivy athletes could still choose to transfer, however they will count against the scholarship limit for their new schools. The Division I Council said senior spring athletes who were in their last year of eligibility could stay at their current schools and wouldn’t count against the scholarship limits for their sports. If they transferred, they wouldn’t get that exemption.