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Hawaii AD: 'Very real possibility' football program shuts down

The school is facing a steep operating deficit.

Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Hawaii's football program may shut down as a result of tough financial conditions, athletic director Ben Jay said at a Board of Regents meeting Monday afternoon.

The University reportedly holds a $2.1 million deficit this year, and KITV reports they've operated in the red for 11 of the past 13 seasons. After reaching seven bowls between 2002-2010, the Warriors have struggled in recent years and attendance has declined. The AP reported in July only 15,500 season tickets had been sold, and that the Warriors have not sold fewer than 18,000 since the 1970s.

Despite the recent downturn (a 4-20 record under current head coach Norm Chow), Hawaii has a place in college football history. Two of the top seven passers in NCAA history went to Hawaii -- second-ranked Timmy Chang (17,072 yards) and seventh-ranked Colt Brennan (14,193) -- making it the only school with more than one quarterback in the top 11. Eight current NFL players played college ball at Hawaii.

Update: Jay is backtracking:

"My comments at the Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics' meeting were made in order to convey a sense of urgency regarding the need to address our current funding model," he said in a statement released by the school.

"In no way was I indicating that a decision on program reduction of any sport was under consideration. Rather, I was suggesting that the department's financial situation required that all possible scenarios be reviewed. Hopefully, going forward, there will be a priority placed on discussing the future financial needs of the UH Athletics Department. President David Lassner has expressed his support and we'll call upon our many loyal stakeholders to help us ensure that we remain competitive within the future landscape of intercollegiate athletics. We owe that to our student-athletes and passionate fans."