“But you say numbers? That’s what you come here to say, numbers?”

I admit to being struck by the juxtaposition between UAB cancelling its football program because of finances, per its president…

The president says this wasn’t the outcome anyone wanted but the numbers are the numbers. The athletic director who led the strategic study gets a new job title and is nowhere to be found. Reporters grill the president on what this really is all about and when the decision was made.

UAB said it already subsidizes $20 million of the roughly $30 million annual athletic department operating budget. The university cited continually spiraling athletic costs in college sports, including cost of attendance stipends to players. UAB’s strategic report by consultant Bill Carr listed UAB’s cost of attendance figure at about $5,442 per scholarship.

Carr’s report forecast UAB’s expenses with football increasing from $30.2 million in 2015 to $38.5 million in 2019 while generated revenue is expected to grow by less than $1 million. UAB is committed to providing institutional support of $14.5 million annually, along with student fee increases of 3 percent per year, the report said.

Carr calculated the cumulative net deficit at $25.3 million over the next five years. Without football, Carr predicted a five-year net revenue of $2 million and the difference in operating expenses would be $27.3 million over five years with football.

On top of that, UAB determined it needed an incremental capital investment of $22.2 million in football facilities (outdoor practice field, multisport indoor practice facility and a football administration building) to sustain competitiveness. In other words, UAB argued, it needed to invest about $49 million over the next five years to be competitive in Conference USA.

… and Auburn preparing itself to back up the Brink’s truck to pay Will Muschamp whatever it takes to become the next defensive coordinator, in spite of numbers.

And the trend didn’t stop when Malzahn hired his first staff at Auburn. The Tigers’ initial salary pool ranked fifth in the nation, a number that may rise after Auburn assistants received raises that added $900,000 to the pool following last season’s trip to the national title game.

Auburn’s ability to pay its assistants top-dollar hasn’t changed despite the $865,994 deficit the athletics department reported for the 2013 fiscal year, along with the buyouts still owed to four coaches.

Auburn is still paying former head coach Gene Chizik $209,457.84 per month, according to open financial records, through the 2015-2016 fiscal year, owes former basketball coach Tony Barbee $1.875 million in monthly installments that end in June of 2017, assistant coach Ryan Miller $15,833 per month through May of 2015 and now former defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson $850,000 per year through June of 2017, a figure that will go down if he gets another job.

Auburn owes all four coaches a total of roughly $7.1 million through June 2017, although the yearly total obviously drops as coaches come off the books at different times.

Those numbers likely won’t deter Auburn from its pursuit of Muschamp.

Sure, Auburn has greater resources to pull from than UAB could ever dream of.  But that didn’t stop the Tigers from losing money last year.  It’s really a story of if there’s a will, there’s a way.  And it seems there’s no will in Birmingham.


UPDATE:  How can you not love this quote“Auburn apparently is prepared to spend at least $1.2 million per year for Muschamp’s services, though it’s unclear how comfortably the athletic department can foot the bill.”


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness

30 responses to ““But you say numbers? That’s what you come here to say, numbers?”

  1. Bulldawg165

    “It’s really a story of if there’s a will, there’s a way”

    Off-topic, but you’ve gotta respect how quickly Auburn ditched their defensive coordinator when it became clear he wasn’t a good fit. That’s a program committed to winning.


    • I thought he did a pretty good job of taking over Brillant Brian’s D in 2013. He got a lot of praise from some GTPers here. Gus scored 44 points on Alabama but only 7 on Georgia. I’m sure Gus doesn’t talk about it all that much.
      Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, one of the most respected defensive minds in college football who helped the Tigers to a 2013 SEC Championship and a BCS Championship berth last season, enters his second season at Auburn and is a 30-plus year coaching veteran who has 18 years of experience coaching in the Southeastern Conference. He’s had a great career. Is he still getting a paycheck from Southern Miss?

      In 7 years at Nebraska Bo had two 10 win seasons and one 11 win season and never won less than 9 games. His buyout is 7.7 million. It will be interesting to follow the Cornhuskers and see how long they wander in that desert.

      Fans are a fickle bunch. They move from pay the man and buy the best coach to FIRE! FIRE ! FIRE! We all ought to think on that before we start a spending spree.


      • Auburn’s defense has pretty much stunk since at least 2007. I’m not sure why, all of the sudden, Gus gets tired of Ellis. Maybe it was the 55 points.

        Pelini had a decent record, but he’s also gotten 70 points hung on him and his defense allowed 408 yards to Melvin Gordon. Huskers just won’t put up with that stuff (and that’s not even counting his personality issues).


    • Noonan

      The only thing I respect about Auburn “University” is their Animal Science program.


  2. jeff

    The Alabama BOT (translation: Paul Bryant JR) didn’t want a football program at UAB. Bryant has had it in for UAB ever since Gene Bartow threatened to make UAB the best basketball program in the state. They hated each other. Bartow eventually left because of the rift. 7 years ago UAB had an agreement in principle with Jimbo Fisher to be the HC. Bryant nixed it. Big money boosters have been trying to get in front of the UAB AD for the past year with no success. When have you ever heard of of an AD slamming the door in the face of money? He was bought.

    PBJR has finally accomplished something on his own. Hope he is proud.


    • Well, if what you typed is indeed true (and I’m not saying it isn’t), don’t you think that was a little short-sighted on Bartow’s part to rattle Tuscaloosa’s cage like that back in the day?

      Regardless of vendetta’s and such, the BOT has a job to do. Why would they fund or encourage anything of the sort that would potentially damage their cash cow?

      Anyways, have a good day,



      • 3rdandGrantham

        The so-called sabre rattling you alluded to took place before Bill Clinton even took office, so harboring any ill-will due to something said roughly a quarter of a century ago is absurdly juvenile. Besides, the man in question (Bartow) is dead, so getting back at someone who is in their grave is just plain stupid.

        If the BOT had “a job to do,” why didn’t they kill UAB football years ago, instead of letting it operate in the red the entire time?


  3. Anon

    This is way more about what happens in Tuscaloosa than what’s not happening anymore in Birmingham.


  4. 3rdandGrantham

    Regardless if you’re UAB, UAT, or FAU, students and state taxpayers should never be on the hook for subsidizing sports programs that are financially inviable, and funding for sports should never come at the expense of academics. So regardless of any behind the scenes machinations that may or may not have been taking place, I applaud UAB for being fiscally responsible and ridding itself of a complete money drain that was only going to continue to worsen.

    As for AU, they remind me of a jealous relative or neighbor who is desperate to keep up in the rat race and want to be perceived as being on par or better (wealthier) than their peers. Though they don’t have the financial firepower to match, they spend all of their money (and then some) on flashy things to keep the perception alive and well.


    • As a general principle, I agree with you about taxpayers not subsidizing college athletics. But athletic department budgets are the product of textbook fuzzy math. Combine that with what’s been a history of bad faith from UAB’s board, and I’m not willing to jump to conclusions here about whether the school has been fiscally responsible. Especially when you consider this:


      • 3rdandGrantham

        No doubt the UAB situation is certainly a peculiar case. What piqued my interest the most was the fact that UAB just completed one of their best seasons in history, in which they’ll be heading to only their second ever bowl (I believe). When you factor in longstanding comments from those associated with UAB that any football success would only hasten its demise faster, it certainly makes you wonder about what the true motives were.The timing alone, if nothing else, certainly is odd.


      • From AL.com: “That equates to a $100 million existing subsidy from UAB to the Athletic Department in the next five years. In the new NCAA landscape over that same time period, the difference in scenarios in which UAB eliminates football or maintains a competitive Conference USA program is an additional $49 million. After those first five years, operating costs would only continue to increase.”

        That sounds fiscally responsible to me.

        UAB football was a black hole. Plain and simple.


        • So why aren’t other schools in a similar boat dumping their football programs?

          Color me skeptical about the math.


          • 3rdandGrantham

            Right. When it comes to profitability/losses, UAB was about average for CUSA programs, ranking 6th overall. And programs like Rutgers and Miami (OH) make UAB look like a fiscally prudent money manager.


          • Good question and I have no idea.

            There’s definitely an interesting dynamic here (BOT issues aside). It’s an urban campus. There is no base and I’m not sure there is adequate demand.

            If you look at UAB football like an investment or start-up business, there’s no way I would have invested in it.

            But then again, what do I know?



          • Bright Idea

            Might this encourage other schools similar to UAB to dump football especially to prevent paying players because it won’t just be football players?


      • Especially when you consider this:

        Especially when you consider what? Your post ended right there.


    • jollyrogerjay

      It ain’t always about money that is in the Athletic Dept budget. In this case it is more about the big money donors that are willing to pony up the loot, which in Auburn’s deal with chasing Muschamp is what is happening. Texas A&M probably has more money than any other program in the country, and they are courting Will too. Word on the street here is that Will’s wife wants to move back to Auburn. I’d go with “happy wife.”


  5. Russ

    Now I know what Auburn means by “all in”. And I can see how they might actually be losing money….maybe.

    Still, running that close to the edge has got to make some people nervous over there. At some point, the money is going to dry up. Isn’t it?


    • 3rdandGrantham

      AU is no different than many Americans who live at or beyond their means, in which they just assume they will make more money and all outlays will just go away at some point. As a financial adviser friend has mentioned on several occasions, many Mercedes drivers have poor credit scores with little or no savings, compared to the average Volvo driver who drives a nice but less sexy/status car, yet paid cash, has plenty in savings and has a credit score in the high 700’s.

      AU is the Mercedes driver trying to keep up with the Joneses. UGA drives a 7 year old safe/nice, but not exactly flashy Volvo, with money just sitting around waiting to be spent.


  6. jollyrogerjay

    Auburn has driven that Mercedes to the BCS Championship game twice in the last 4 seasons. I’s say we aren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses, that would be UGA’s ambition. Y’all enjoying sitting on that money drawing that .03%?


  7. Ausdawg85

    Auburn…morally and financially bankrupt.


  8. Here’s a good take from a friend: http://t.co/PuONog9wCj


  9. W Cobb Dawg

    UAB won’t be missed. And they’ll likely have company in the next few years. Lookin at you Georgia State.