How costly can a bowl ban be? The University of Mississippi reports that its athletic department reserve fund took a $16 million hit during the two years the Rebels football program was sidelined from post-season play.

According to The Daily Mississippian student newspaper, the athletic department's finances remain healthy. Its $117 million annual budget is roughly double what it was just five years ago, and the department currently ranks 24th in the nation in revenue generation.

At its peak, the reserve fund reached $27 million, but stands at around $8 million currently, as Ole Miss has had to compensate for the football program's setbacks.

"Weathering that storm, we've got to pull that money out of our reserves," athletic director Ross Bjork said during a podcast this week. "So, at the end of this fiscal year, we'll be at around $8 million in reserves."

"We have not cut sports budgets. We have not cut back," he added. "We wanted to make sure we operate at a high-SEC level." 

The bowl ban coupled with the team's 16-20 record over the past three seasons has affected revenue streams such as fundraising and sponsorship sales, but Ole Miss has felt its football recent predicament most notably at the turnstiles. 

As The Daily Mississippian reports, Ole Miss enjoyed a football season ticket base of 54,000 as recently as 2017. Last year, that number had dropped to 47,000.

While he acknowledges winning as key to his department's financial health, Bjork is also placing a lot of hope in ongoing development efforts. "It comes down to fundraising," Bjork said. "There’s no limit on fundraising. We have a ton of proposals out there now that could, in many ways, be transformational for our program."

Paul Steinbach is Senior Editor of Athletic Business.