A Saturday defeat of Southern Miss made the The University of Alabama at Birmingham bowl eligible for the first time in a decade, but that’s not enough save the football program, not after the school announced Tuesday they’ve essentially given themselves the death penalty. Facing with saving nearly $50 million over the next 5 years, UAB President Ray Watts (above) pulled the plug on the football, bowling and rifle teams (maybe the rifle team was bowl eligible, too. Frankly, I don’t want to know). From the Birmingham News’ Kelsey Stein :
Watts said that “killing football was not what we set out to do” but the more they analyzed, the clearer the situation became. Football just was not sustainable.
Continuing to fund the team would divert resources from other priorities on campus, departments that show promise or athletic programs that could be competitive.
“This was an agonizing decision because of the young people involved,” Watts said. “We knew we had to make difficult, but clearly necessary, decisions.”
Members of the band, cheerleading and dance programs should not be worried because they are supported by the university, not just the football team, he said.
“We’ll need them for our other athletic programs,” he said. “We’re not going to change their scholarships or their status.”
Watts’ assertion contrasts recent comments from alumni of the UAB Marching Blazers, some of whom said they would not have attended the university had it not had a football team.