In the most technical sense of the term, this isn’t a football story because UAB doesn’t have a football program anymore. This is where UAB president Ray Watts comes in.
After receiving no confidence votes from both the undergraduate and graduate student government groups, UAB’s faculty senate passed a vote of no confidence on its president on Thursday. The vote stems from Watts’ decision to drop football in December.
“I’m obviously disappointed, but what this vote means to me is that I have more work to do to find common ground so we can move forward, and I am up to this challenge,” Watts said in a statement. “I truly want to thank our students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters who have made their voices heard in a constructive way.”
The same group called for a reassessment of athletics – and Watts’ capacity to perform his job – a week after the football program was canceled. “There’s a lack of trust and respect for Dr. Watts at this stage throughout the campus. The possibility of him leading this university is pretty much nonexistent,” microbiology professor Chuck Turnbough said at the time.
Watts cited a cost of $49 million required to make UAB football competitive – though first-year head coach Bill Clark led the program to six wins this fall, its best season in a decade – and decided those funds would best be spent elsewhere. And then last week he said those findings would be reexamined following external scrutiny of the report.
Though registered and public dissent from your employees is obviously bad for the job security of any university president, it’s worth noting that the UAB faculty’s action on Thursday is purely symbolic.
Only the University of Alabama Board of System trustees have the power to fire Watts, and they’re the group that supported – and initiated – Watts’ decision to cut the Blazers’ football program in the first place.