After weeks and months of speculation about the future of the UAB football program, it appears the program has seen its final days. USA Today is reporting the program will be shut down as early as this week.
The end has appeared to be near for some time now. Earlier in November UAB athletics director Brian Mackin failed to issue a commitment to the football program’s future. The concern had been increasing from UAB alums as support for the program from the university appeared to be diminishing. The lack of scheduling future opponents set off red flags and the cost of running the program was becoming a significant issue.
The timing of such a decision comes at a rough time. UAB finally showed some promise this season and managed to become bowl-eligible with six wins. Official bowl pairings will be announced next Sunday, but now you have to wonder if UAB will even send a team to a bowl game or not.
With UAB shutting down its football program, Conference USA will have a vacant spot in its football line-up. The loss of UAB will drop the football membership to 12 members, but Charlotte will be joining the conference in 2015 to bring the football membership up to 13. Conference USA can clearly function with a 13-team football alignment, although having even membership does have some nice benefits when it comes to balance. UMass has played its final game in the MAC and is searching for a more permanent football future. Conference USA might be the best possible option for UMass, unless the American Athletic Conference came calling, but there is no word there is any interest from Conference USA at this time. The impact of losing UAB in football for other sports at the university and in Conference USA remains unknown for now.
UPDATE: Updated to correct Conference USA membership information with addition of Charlotte in 2015.