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It’s a Game of Spiraling Costs, So a College Tosses Out Football

The University of Alabama-Birmingham said Tuesday that it was terminating its football program, becoming the first university in college sports’ top tier to do so in nearly 20 years and providing the most visible sign yet that athletic officials throughout the country are considering radical options in the face of mounting financial burdens.

The most prominent athletic programs have charged ahead with reforms that allow them to make their own rules on matters like whether to financially reward athletes. Everyone else — including dozens of colleges with proud athletic histories — has been left at a daunting crossroads. Those programs can try to compete with the likes of Alabama and Ohio State, no matter the cost, or retreat and possibly face athletic irrelevance.