Nearly two months after UAB announced it would revive its shuttered football program, we now have a return timetable.
The university sent out a press release Tuesday announcing that the Blazers will resume playing football for the 2017 season. In the initial stages of the resurrection of the football program it was thought that the sport would return for the 2016 season, although that expedited timeline proved to be too daunting.
Additionally, the NCAA has informed UAB that, when the football Blazers take the field again, they’ll do so as an FBS member. They will also be immediately eligible for a bowl game as well as the Conference USA championship game.
That league has already stated it will hold a spot in the conference for UAB.
“I am so excited that UAB Football will return to FBS competition in 2017,” Bill Clark, who will remain as UAB’s head coach as long as a contract can be worked out, said in a statement. “Like our fans, I wanted to light the scoreboard much sooner, but doing it right is more important than doing it fast, and this was our best option. We want a program that is here to stay. We have to start by building a new, stronger foundation. We need to take our time to do it right, then we can compete for conference and bowl championships.
“I want to thank our conference, the UAB administration, and the NCAA for working with us to make this possible,” Clark said. “Most importantly, I want to thank the Blazer Nation. The love and support from UAB fans has been incredible. Please don’t stop. We still have a lot to do and we need all of you. Go Blazers!”
The release added “UAB currently is working with donors who committed enough financial support earlier in the year to enable the programs’ return without impacting the school’s budget beyond its current subsidy” and that “[p]ledges are being processed and fundraising activities are well underway.”
The exact details of rebuilding the Blazers roster — most transferred out to other programs after plans to kill the sport at the school were announced late last year– haven’t been released, but the school stated that their “[c]onversations with the NCAA and Conference USA centered on recruiting, building a roster and maintaining FBS status.”