College Football News: UAB Officially Shuts Down Football Program


On a dark day for intercollegiate athletics in the state of Alabama, it was announced that the 2014 season was the last one for the UAB Blazers football team, as well as bowling and rifle.

Rumors have been circulating about the dire situation at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and following a meeting at the football facility Tuesday, an email statement from UAB president Ray Watts made it official.

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“The Athletic Department faces many challenges given the rapidly evolving NCAA landscape and soaring operating costs which place extreme pressure and a growing financial burden on programs like UAB’s,” the statement read. “Costs are continuously spiraling upwards driven by cost-of-attendance payments to players, meals, equipment, facilities, coaches, travel and more.”

Running a Division I football program is, in fact, very expensive. However, shutting the doors and ending the program is a major blow for players, coaches, their families, UAB fans, students, alumni and the college football community.

“The fiscal realities we face — both from an operating and a capital investment standpoint — are starker than ever and demand that we take decisive action for the greater good of the Athletic Department and UAB,” Watts continued. “As we look at the evolving landscape of NCAA football, we see expenses only continuing to increase. When considering a model that best protects the financial future and prominence of the Athletic Department, football is simply not sustainable.”

The Blazers finished the regular season Saturday with a 45-24 victory over Southern Miss in what is likely the last UAB football game.

Auburn has played UAB once in football, in the first Division 1-A (now FBS) game in program history, a 29-0 win for the Tigers.

Saturday’s win gave them a 6-6 record, making the team eligible for a bowl game in Bill Clark’s first season as head coach, signaling a major on-field turnaround from 2013’s 2-10 mark.

Unfortunately for Clark, his staff, players, and everyone else associated with the UAB football (and bowling and rifle) program, it will cease to exist following the 2014-15 academic year.

“In eliminating football,” Watts said later in the statement, “UAB will be better positioned to invest in programs where the institution can be sustainably competitive on a conference and even national level. Funds from discontinued programs will be redirected to more fully support UAB’s priority sports and build those into championship programs.

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  • “We are not looking to reduce the athletic budget, but instead to reallocate our resources to remaining athletic programs,” Watts said. “This strategic plan will give us our best chance to win championships and national prominence. Many of our programs have been on the cusp, and funds redirected from football can propel them to the next level. The best days for UAB Athletics are yet to come.”


    Pretty amazing to say “the best days for UAB Athletics are yet to come” when so many people have just had their hopes and dreams dashed.

    It’s too early to say what will happen to the players and coaches involved, and given the rescue of the Cal baseball program a few years ago, there may still be some hope for the Blazers football program.

    Clark is a rising star in the coaching world, and he will have plenty of opportunities moving forward. Chances are the players will be allowed to transfer and continue their playing careers elsewhere, also.

    But none of that will ease the pain they all feel today.


    Next: Auburn Legend Pat Sullivan Steps Down at Samford