The Tiger Athletic Foundation, the fundraising arm of LSU athletics, will not fund its usual contribution to non-athletic scholarships and teaching awards this year, a decision the foundation's board of directors says was made in the face of financial losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The TAF organization donated $400,000 for non-athletic scholarships and teaching awards in 2020 despite sustaining a net operating loss of more than $12 million, spokeswoman Chrislyn Maher said in an email Friday.
The organization's financial outlook "remains stable," Maher said, and the TAF board of directors will revisit funding the scholarships and awards again next year.
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The decision is the most recent financial setback at LSU attributed to COVID-19. The university's athletic department said in October it expected to lose $80 million in revenue, and, as a result, the department eliminated 20 jobs and reduced staff earnings for high-level employees by at least 5%.
Formed in 1987, the TAF organization has funded and overseen construction and renovation projects at LSU that total nearly $500 million, according to the organization's website. The normally heavy flow of donations generally make up a substantial portion of LSU's athletic department's budget, which includes expenses like coaching salaries, team travel and athletic student aid.
Contributions made up more than a fourth of the LSU athletic department's revenues in Fiscal Year 2020, according to the school's financial report, and the $41,284,692 received in pledges ranked third only to media rights ($42,682,524) and ticket sales ($41,650,451) in highest sources of revenue.
TAF itself contributed almost $22 million to LSU athletics in the year ending Dec. 31, 2018, according to the organization's most recent tax forms filed in 2019.
"Although TAF’s financial outlook remains stable, given the financial impact of COVID-19 on TAF as well as LSU Athletics, the TAF board of directors made the difficult decision to eliminate funding for non-athletic scholarships and teaching awards for 2021," Maher said in an email. "This and other budget measures taken by the board of directors are necessary to ensure that TAF will be able to provide the financial support required to continue fulfilling its core mission of ensuring the success of LSU student-athletes in the classroom, in competition and in life."
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