Study: UAB faces $3.2 million yearly deficit with football

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The UAB athletic department would face an annual deficit of about $3.2 million if it reinstates football, rifle and bowling, according to a study commissioned by the university.

The College Sports Solutions report released Monday didn't make a recommendation on whether the university should bring back the sports but found "near unanimity" among campus groups that their elimination had a negative effect.

University President Ray Watts said last week that he would announce UAB's decision on June 1. The CSS report said both options were viable but made it clear reviving the sports would be a positive from a public relations standpoint.

"We do believe that if a decision is in fact made to reinstate these sports, it would foster much good will and stimulate a substantial amount of spiritual and financial support from alumni, donors, ticket holders, friends, students, faculty and the community," the CSS report said. "It could create a unique opportunity, not only through that support, but also through unprecedented positive national attention to the University."

Watts has been criticized since announcing his decision in December, receiving no-confidence votes from faculty and student groups.

A UAB-appointed task force hired CSS to study the report Watts cited in his decision after UAB fired the group's first choice, OSKR. The initial report from CarrSports Consulting calculated that it would cost UAB $49 million over five years to field a competitive football program.

CSS said both Watts and University of Alabama System trustees would support reinstating the sports "if such a return were made with sound financial considerations and plans."

An OSKR study, paid for partly by UAB supporters, said the December decision was "ill advised" financially and that the three sports essentially broke even in 2013-14.

Without the three dropped sports, CSS said, UAB's athletics program would operate in a hole until generating a profit of $150,000 in 2020.

The 97-page report said UAB was operating under the "flawed" assumption that it could remain in Conference USA without football when Watts cut the sports in December. The league hasn't announced any decision on UAB's fate but current rules require all members to field football programs.

CSS indicated that UAB would lose more than $2 million in annual revenue if it must leave C-USA to join another league as a non-football playing member, citing the Missouri Valley Conference, Atlantic 10 and the Sun Belt as options.

"We believe both scenarios are viable in very different ways," the study said. "The real questions become what does UAB want to be in intercollegiate athletics, in whose company does it want to stand, and what is the best fit to match the mission and vision of the University?"

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