The University of Tennessee football program has struggled to win games the last several years.
According to the Sports Business Journal, those losses add up to financial problems for the university's athletic program and the university in general.
The newspaper reported the program is more than $200 million in debt and pays more than $21 million each year in debt payments.
“We've got to get football healthy. That's our economic engine. When that program is successful, everybody wins,” UT Athletic Director Dave Hart told the publication.
Nashville's News 2 spoke with Dr. Greg Faulk at Belmont University's School of Business who echoed Hart's words.
“If General Motors isn't selling cars, then they have a problem because they have a whole bunch of debt,” he explained. “They [UT's football program] had the lowest fan attendance since 1979.”
According to the Sports Business Journal, Tennessee is paying former head coach Derek Dooley's staff more than $9 million over the next four years.
However, average attendance at home football games dropped below 90,000 for the first time in more than two decades this past season.
Faulk said losses on the field add up to losses for the rest of the university.
“The seven million dollar donation that the athletic department was giving to the school for general scholarships and everything else has been rescinded for the next three years,” Faulk explained.
He added, he does not know where the deficit will be made up if the athletic department's revenue continues to drop.
“They [university programs] have issues of their own. Their funding has been cut by the state government they've had to look at cut backs in programs, not do maintenance they've had to trim expenses themselves.”
UT is expected to get some relief from a new SEC television package and from bowl games that will add up to nearly $34 million to their coffers.