Money Flows Like a Tide

The University of Alabama has seen a steady rise in students and money since 2007. This column will highlight some actual numbers that that University of Alabama has seen, and how UA intends on using it.

By Harrison Holditch 
Contributing Writer

Ever since Nick Saban became the head coach of the Crimson Tide football team, money has been pouring into the University of Alabama and the city of Tuscaloosa.

Saban became the 27th head coach of the Tide on January 7, 2007 with a base salary of $5.3 million. While critics think this number is not justified, one must look at what the football has really brought to Alabama.

Since 2007, the growth of students has been exponential. In 2007, students, enrollment was less than 27,000. By 2013, 34,852 were enrolled for the 2013 fall semester.

Saban has been winning at a consistent pace with his first national championship being delivered in 2009. He has since brought two others to the school, in 2011 and 2012.

If a team from the Southeastern Conference, like Alabama, wins the BCS championship, around $22 million is awarded to the conference. The University of Alabama carved out a slice of pie worth $6.1 million for winning the final game in 2012.

Since the last championships, Saban has had an increase in his contract to $6.9 million making him the highest paid coach in the country. That means that Coach Saban makes $919,827.83 every month for running the team.

As the football team keeps winning the steady flow of out-of-state students comes in. With these out-of-state kids come big dollar signs. Each student not from Alabama brings in on average an extra $6,000 in tuition. The quality of these students has also risen.

The acceptance rate has dropped, and the University is becoming more picky about who they let in. The 2012 freshmen class, one out of every four carry a 4.0 grade point average or higher. The class also boasts 241 Merit Scholars, which is more than any public university in the nation.

With an extra cash flow that the University has never seen before, it allows UA to put it to good use. Coming in 2014, a new 860-bed residential facility will be built. The new facility will not only hold rooms, but it will have a recreation center and food court. Also in the works is a 75,000-square-foot addition to the Ferguson Center, which will provide space for the SUPeStore and new offices.

The athletic department at UA has mirrored the rest of the university. As of 2007, the athletic department had revenue of $67 million. Come 2014 it has soared to $124.5 million.  This has much to do with the football team. Most of the other sports actually cost the university money.

There are many opinions on what has caused this influx of students and money. One thing is for sure; it has not hurt the University or the city of Tuscaloosa.