There remains a glimmer of hope for the revival of UAB football. The university will vote on what to do with the future of the football program on June 1, UAB president Ray Watts has announced.
UAB announced a decision to shut down the football program in late November 2014. Despite being bowl eligible, the Blazers were left with no bowl invitation in the days following the decision to shut down the program. Watts informed the team of the decision in a meeting, which as you might imagine became a bit of an emotional scene.Conference USA has already made the decision to cut ties with UAB in the aftermath of losing the football program. Each Conference USA member must be a member in all sports, so the loss of football hurt UAB in that area, but if the school acts quickly to pretend it was all a bad dream then perhaps there is a chance Conference USA might reconsider its decision, which it should if UAB commits to bring football back to life.
Even if the school does vote to resurrect the freshly killed off program, it may be too late to play in 2015. Schedules have already been filled with the absence of UAB and players have gone one way or another after being allowed to transfer without penalty of sitting out a season. But head coach Bill Clark made the decision early on to refrain from exploring other opportunities on the off-chance UAB did bring back football. At this point, the earliest UAB football would be expected to be ready to play again would be 2016 at the earliest. And in that case, UAB will have made things so much more difficult for themselves then they ever needed to be.
Conference USA has already made the decision to cut ties with UAB in the aftermath of losing the football program. Each Conference USA member must be a member in all sports, so the loss of football hurt UAB in that area, but if the school acts quickly to pretend it was all a bad dream then perhaps there is a chance Conference USA might reconsider its decision, which it should if UAB commits to bring football back to life. UAB will have already lost out on one recruiting cycle entirely, and now whatever football staff is available will have to sell recruits that there really is a stable future at the school. That might be a tough pitch to take too seriously right now.
UAB supporters recently raised $6 million specifically to fund football. One study following the shutting down of the program revealed football was financially viable, which disputed the original logic for shutting the program down in the first place.
UPDATE (4:35 p.m.): Here is a copy of the letter shared by Watts, courtesy of UAB;
Students, faculty and staff,
As you likely know, we are anticipating receipt on May 15 of the College Sports Solutions (CSS) review, commissioned by the Athletic Assessment Task Force, of what CSS projects it would cost to invest adequately in our current athletics programs and reinstate and support football, rifle and bowling programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
The Task Force was also charged with determining what financial resources are needed beyond what UAB has previously committed to its athletic programs in order to reinstate a consistently successful football program and to determine if external, private funding exists to sustain such an effort.
Again, the report is due May 15, 2015. The UAB senior leadership team will be consulting with various stakeholders within the UAB community. We will consider the report’s findings, along with other important, valuable and mission-critical data, in order to make the best decision for UAB going forward, guided by our vision, mission and strategic plan.
We plan to make an announcement by June 1. This announcement will be made via our website, social media channels and by email when an official decision has been reached.
With best wishes,
Ray L. Watts