TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona announced last week that 21 of its athletic department employees would be laid off, due to the financial strain of the pandemic. Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik worked at UA for more than 30 years, and was one of those 21 employees cut.
“To be honest with you, I’m not happy at all about how the eliminating my job was handled,” said Kozachik.
Kozachik has been a vocal community leader about how the city and university have handled the COVID-19 pandemic, since the beginning. And now, even though the decision to lay him off was financial, he doesn’t believe eliminating his position was smart.
“There’s a distinction, though. You can eliminate a position, but that does not eliminate the work. Multi-millions of dollars worth of capital work that needs to be done in the athletics department that’s not going away just because I am.” said Kozachik.
Kozachik said the way the university and athletics department let him go, was disrespectful.
“On a scale of 10, I’d give them about a one on style points. I’ve worked for four athletic directors. Every one of the other three would have picked up the phone and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to have a tough conversation. Come on down. I know you’re a numbers guy, we’ll go through the numbers.’ Instead a get a phone call on a Monday morning from an HR person. That’s just - I mean I don’t need a ticker-tape-parade. But a little bit of respect after 33 years would have been a nice touch,” said Kozachik.
What’s next for the councilman, aside from his ongoing work for the city of Tucson? He says its a fluid conversation he’s having with different people.
“No, I’m not done. I’m not going to be a wallflower. This discussion Is not done,” said Kozachik.
Athletics director Dave Heeke has commented on the department lay offs saying, “I have a great sense of empathy and compassion for the members of our wildcat family who are impacted by these decisions. These challenging economic times have affected all of us. We’ve spent months exhaustively looking at all of our financial models and forecasts. We waited until all the information was available to make informed financial decisions about our economic stability this year and in the future.”