Full-time employees from the N.B.A.’s Philadelphia 76ers and the N.H.L.’s New Jersey Devils who earn at least $50,000 were informed Monday that, because of the Covid-19 outbreak, they will be subjected to temporary salary reductions of up to 20 percent through the end of June.
Both franchises are co-owned by the billionaire duo of Josh Harris and David Blitzer. The reductions, first disclosed by The New York Times, were confirmed in a Monday night statement by Scott O’Neil, the chief executive of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment.
It was not immediately known if other N.B.A. or N.H.L. teams had instituted a similar program. But the Sixers’ involvement is the first confirmed financial cutback for an N.B.A. franchise in the wake of the global pandemic, and it came after a steady flurry of charitable donations from players and teams throughout the league since the season was suspended March 11.
In response to the coronavirus emergency that led the N.B.A. and the N.H.L. to suspend their seasons last week, Harris and Blitzer have also applied the reductions to full-time employees of the Prudential Center, where the Devils play, and their entertainment company. The measure, O’Neil said, was taken to avoid layoffs.
The program affects employees in team and business operations for the 76ers and Devils. Employees under contract, such as members of the Sixers’ and Devils’ coaching staffs and selected members of their front offices, have been asked to participate in the rollbacks but cannot be forced to do so.
Players from the Sixers and Devils fall under a different category and are exempt from such reductions since both leagues have collectively bargained labor agreements. Any salary adjustments would have to be imposed leaguewide, through a “force majeure” clause that can be applied under catastrophic circumstances such as war, natural disasters and epidemic/pandemics, rather than by individual teams.
Four top executives in the various organizations — 76ers General Manager Elton Brand, their team president, Chris Heck, the Devils’ team president, Jake Reynolds, and O’Neil — have agreed to participate in the program, according to a person privy to the arrangements but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
“To ensure we can continue to support and operate our businesses during these uncertain times without reducing our work force, we are asking our full-time, salaried employees to temporarily reduce their pay by up to 20 percent and move to a four-day week,” O’Neil said.
Employees were told Monday that these measures will affect paychecks — but not health benefits or 401(k) plans — from April 15 through June 30. The latter date represents the end of the fiscal year for Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment as well as an unofficial target for the potential resumption of the suspended N.B.A. season.