Richard Justice, a thoughtful reporter at the Houston Chronicle, argues here that Rice football is worth the investment.
Some interesting stats from the article: sports at Rice represent 3.2% of the school's budget, and direct costs for football (excluding scholarships) total $8m per year. These are significant but not grossly disproportional numbers. Add in the opportunity costs of the scholarships (85 * $30,000) and football costs $10.5m per year. A school can do lots of things with $10.5m, hence considering alternatives is an important task.