Could UH football go away? - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Could UH football go away?

UH football UH football
Andrew Zimbalist Andrew Zimbalist
Ben Jay Ben Jay
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Professor of Economics and noted sports economics expert Andrew Zimbalist paints a picture of the current financial landscape in collegiate athletics. It's not rosy.

"It's perilous for schools that are not in the top 20 or 30 programs. There are maybe 20 programs across the country that run either in surplus or breaking even on an operating basis".

UH Manoa is not one of them. The program has run a deficit 11 of the past 13 years. Athletics Director Ben Jay raised eyebrows in August by suggesting UH may have to drop the football program to remain viable. He walked the comments back then, but in November said he's anticipating a budget shortfall of 3.5 million dollars for the fiscal year.

Those figures are similar to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, which announced on Tuesday it is dropping football. The school projected a net deficit of 25 million dollars over the next 5 years with football. Without it, the projection yielded a revenue of 2 million dollars.

Ending the program is enticing for any cash strapped athletic department.

"Everything has got to be on the table, including that. And we've got to look at it reasonably, rationally, and economically" said State Senator Sam Slom. Slom says it may be a tough decision - but the model that UAB created may be one UH needs to explore. "It's more than just the money itself. They were looking at the university going ahead for the next 20, 30, 40 years. I think that's what we have to do in our community".

Hawaii News Now reached out to Ben Jay for comment on this story. He did not return the call.

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