Study: Sacked Alabama-Birmingham Football Program Made Money

April 24, 2015

A new study says that the University of Alabama at Birmingham's decision to cut its football program for financial reasons was "ill-advised," as the program was actually making money for the university, and that surpluses are expected to increase over the next few years. The study also criticized the university's elimination of the rifle and bowling teams, saying that the sports at least broke even.

"We find that the three sports in question did not cost the university anywhere near the $3.75 million indicated on UAB's accounting statements," wrote Dan Rascher and Andy Schwarz, authors of the study and partners at OSKR, an economic analysis firm. "Instead, after making the sort of adjustments suggested by the economics literature, we conclude that the three sports were effectively break-even to slightly positive. Football and bowling showed a modest positive return for 2013-14, the last year for which complete data was available. Rifle showed a deficit, but the three-sport balance was positive to the tune of $75,000."

OSKR was originally hired by the university to conduct the study, but their work was canceled over conflict of interest concerns. Rascher and Schwarz were consultants for the plaintiffs in Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which paved the way for colleges to offer full cost-of-attendance scholarships. The university had cited the expense of providing full cost of attendance as one of the reasons to shutter the program. The firm's study was completed through funds provided by boosters, CBS News reported. The university has since hired another firm to conduct a separate study of the decision.

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