UAB Shuts Down Football Program

By Brian Wilmer -

Effective after this season, UAB no longer sponsors varsity football.

This has been rumored for a while now, but became official earlier this afternoon. Players were seen crying after leaving the meeting announcing the decision.

Blazer players will be able to transfer to any school without penalty, while the future of coach Bill Clark is now thoroughly in question. Clark came to UAB after one season at Jacksonville State (FCS), leading the Blazers to bowl eligibility.

The following schools were on UAB’s future schedules, and will now need to look for alternate opponents:

Tennessee (at Nashville, TN)
Georgia State
South Alabama

South Alabama
Georgia State

Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky issued a statement earlier this afternoon, saying partially:

“We are aware of the study but disappointed with the decision to discontinue the sport of football at UAB, particularly because of its effect on the lives of the student-athletes and coaches that have worked so hard to restore the quality of the program. We don’t fully understand the decision, nor agree with it, but do respect it and the authority of the UAB Administration to make it.”

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reports that UAB must pay nearly $2.5 million to cancel the games listed above.

Tuesday afternoon, UAB released a lengthy official statement on the discontinuation of their football program. Below are some snippets:

In order to more effectively invest in the success of priority programs that are most likely to bring national prominence relative to the necessary investment, the Athletic Department has determined that the final seasons for UAB football, bowling and rifle will be in the 2014-2015 academic year.

“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,” said President Ray L. Watts, M.D. “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.”

UAB already subsidizes $20 million of the roughly $30 million annual Athletic Department operating budget, which is the fifth largest budget and subsidy in Conference USA. That equates to a $100 million existing subsidy from UAB to the Athletic Department in the next five years. In the new NCAA landscape over that same time period, the difference in scenarios in which UAB eliminates football or maintains a competitive Conference USA program is an additional $49 million. After those first five years, operating costs would only continue to increase.

From an operating budget standpoint alone, the difference between maintaining and eliminating football is more than $27 million over the next five years; this is in addition to the existing $100 million institutional subsidy. This investment does not include additional necessary capital improvements for facilities, which is estimated at $22 million for football facilities alone, including a field house, indoor practice facility and a turf field. This $22 million investment would not include an on-campus stadium.

  1. Nathan
    December 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I am a Marshall fan and hate to see UAB cancell thier football program. This year they went 6-6 and are bowl eligible. Thier new coach has turned UAB around and played oppenents tough. Unfortuanley he will go somewhere else. He would be a great addition to any FBS program. UAB hosts the Conference USA Men’s and womens Baskettball Tournement in March 2015. Wonder if the UAB Baskettball program will leave the CUSA and go to another confernce, they are a real good baskettball program. I will miss UAB in football.

    • David
      December 3, 2014 at 12:43 am

      C-USA should expel the remnant teams of UAB and sue them for breach of contract. How much notice was C-USA given? Oh well, C-USA will have their pick of Sun Belt teams. I’d suggest NMSU for all sports for the benefit it creates for outlying UTEP, and shoring up a West Division NMSU-UTEP-UTSA-UNT-Rice-LaTech-USM.

    • Bill (the one that's commenting for years; not the newbie)
      December 4, 2014 at 10:52 am

      david—What provisions f the contract have they breached? (HINT–Unless you have read the CUSA membership agreement, the correct answer is “I have absolutely no idea”). There are probably penalties, and UAB is most certainly ware of them. If they pay the penalties or reach a mutual agreement, there is no grounds for a lawsuit.

  2. Greg BarnesGreg
    December 2, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    This is definitely another loss for Conference USA. It’d be nice to see UMass come in for football only, and the league retain UAB for other sports. I can’t help but feel negatively toward the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for this decision. I hope the Board realizes what a bad PR move this was, but I doubt they do.

  3. Phil B
    December 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    Sad day for Coach Clark, the UAB players and the football staff. This could destroy the entire athletic department. C-USA will surely kick them out..

    • David
      December 3, 2014 at 12:47 am

      Not only should they kick them out, they should sue them for the cost of the loss of 8 conference games over N number of years, and definitely withhold all conference shares, etc. Also make them ineligible for all remaining conference titles, etc. Relocate the scheduled conference tourneys, etc.

    • Bill (the one that's commenting for years; not the newbie)
      December 4, 2014 at 10:54 am

      David…are all the penalties you want to impose permitted under the CUSA charter? you cant going around people or institutions just because they piss you off.

  4. bill smithzerzz
    December 2, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    very sad day indeed.

  5. G of F
    December 2, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    My respect for the University of Alabama was already pretty low, but now that we know how the big boys on that school’s board plays I have no respect for that school now.

    • Rod
      December 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Exactly. Would LOVE to see Missouri win the SEC title game this week just to show Bear’s spoiled kid up.

  6. Shep
    December 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Shows you what a difference sports can make in some states – the University of Texas system created and fast-tracked UTSA to FBS in addition to the established UTEP, where as UA buries any internal competition. Plus, UT may also start playing football at UT-Arlington, which is in the Sun Belt and could easily move up to FBS.

  7. josh
    December 2, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    so messed up …… why the football program r they penny pinching? or just dont see it as others schools in the commuity

  8. Dirk
    December 2, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    I absolutely have NO RESPECT for the University of Alabama Board of Trusties who should Forever be called The Board of Untrusties !!! I hope they croak in their own !@#$ !!!

  9. Phil
    December 2, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Sucks for UAB, hope they are able to go out and have their final game be in a bowl game in one of the nice destination CUSA bowls like the Boca Raton or Bahamas

  10. David
    December 3, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Interesting too, how Bama through its lockstep Board gets to screw over Tennessee for next year. What in the heck are Tennessee’s alternatives now for 2015 to get a home game?!?! Starting with a C-USA team on the rise was a decent game compared to playing Western Carolina or Chattanooga. Wish Fulmer had a few more dimes to drop on these BOT (Ba$tards Over Tuscaloosa) morons.

    • Earl
      December 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

      I can only imagine how bad it must feel not to have an 8TH HOME GAME secured for next season! Quit whining. Why not do a home and home with UCF, with ’15 in Orlando and ’19 in Knoxville? That way you bolster your non-conference schedule with a decent tune-up for Oklahoma in ’15, while we get a good practice game for Stanford and South Carolina next year.

      Sad to see a former conference mate go. Look over your shoulders, Troy and South Alabama (other schools in the University of Alabama System).

    • David
      December 3, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Goodbye Earl. I’m not whining. I have ZERO connection to UT, I’m just pointing out that UT’s athletics is going to have a tough time finding a comparable mid-major to schedule at this late of a date. ‘m on a FOOTBALL SCHEDULING SITE where we talk about these issues. What’s your issue? Didn’t get your morning coffee or pi$$ break yet? “MY” non-conference schedule? My alma mater went OOC to play AT Kansas State. The college I teach at (FCS Maine) was originally going to play FSU at Tallahassee till we got dropped for Savannah State, and we’ve been to Nebraska, Northwestern, Miss State in recent years.
      AND you clearly are clueless. Neither Troy nor South Alabama are part of, nor beholden to the University of Alabama System, which has only three campuses: UAT, UAB, and UAH. Troy has its own Board, as does USA. The only other ‘system’ in the state is Auburn, which has its branch in Montgomery. If you’re going to come to a football scheduling discussion site, do your effing homework.

    • Earl
      December 3, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      Temper temper, sir. Your initial post gives no indication you support a specific team. I assumed, like most people would based on that one post, you followed UT. Your follow up post says “My team played OOC at KSU”. Now I have to guess if it’s Auburn, Stephen F. Austin, or UTEP, or look in a different year to see who else played K State? So much to figure out for a short coffee break! Thanks Dr. Nigma.

      My point was Tennessee already has 7 home games without UAB. They already play one FCS team, so they need an FBS opponent. A home-and-home with UCF or even Miami. FL next year would get them a quality 12th opponent in 2015. Both have an opening. Both need a 2nd Home OOC game. Tennessee doesn’t need a 4th.

      Clearly, my “crack research” lasted 1 minute on the U of A system. Troy actually used to be a part of the Alabama State University System, which has nothing to do with scheduling, by the way. So thorough, you teachers. By the way, awesome job with the whole “do your homework bit” as a teacher. Relax, it’s only banter.

    • David
      December 3, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      I’m going to waste another minute here and tell you… that you’re utterly unknowing of anything about the history of colleges, that you actually think Troy was part of any system. There is not now, nor has there ever been any such thing as an Alabama State University System. Troy’s history has never seen it amalgamated in any system. It had its own Troy State campuses that have all been unified into a solitary structure whether a student is in Troy, Dothan, Phenix City, or Montgomery. Alabama State is an HBCU that’s also never been part of any system. You might want to try doing some research before opening your mouth.

    • day
      December 4, 2014 at 5:55 am

      This is true, that is why you will never see the University of Alabama having any control over Troy or S. Alabama. The Jags of South Alabama are climbing the ladder with full force, would not be surprised if their in a bigger conference in the next 5-10 years.They need an on campus field to help them out a little. Troy has been hovering for years, not sure where that program is going or will it just stay put. Just don’t seem to understand why you would allow UAB to have a football program then take it away. All other sports will remain at UAB, there no treat. Let UAB control their own football program if they can afford it, if not then that is another issue.

  11. Boris Janovic
    December 3, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Where to begin?
    1. G-5 schools or ‘mid-majors’ gave up their ability to compete on equal footing with poor sellout deals made over the past 20 or so years. It’s a ‘separate-but-equal’ situation between the 70 or so Power teams and the 60 or so Group teams (schools). Chicken or the egg? You’re fooling yourself to not believe that recruiting, TV dollars, history, and media coverage are the only factors separating the ‘haves’ from the ‘have nots.’
    2. Sad that 6-6 Penn State gets off sanctions early (after one of the most despicable cases in NCAA history) and goes to a bowl 3 short years later. But sadly, the 6-6 UAB team is a much less attractive option. Any takers? Boca Raton? If any school’s football program should have been killed off, Penn State deserved to be the first to go.
    3. College football is fun–but it’s ridiculous. In what other sporting endeavor do 40% of the teams not even have a chance for a title even before the first minute of competition? What other sporting endeavor with such limited competition (standard 12 games played) allows member entities to choose pick and choose its own schedule? It’s really mind-boggling. I love college football, but with things like out of conference scheduling, incongruity in conference membership and discrepant title games, a sham playoff system, and the quality of ‘student athlete’ seen nowadays, etc., etc. it’s just harder to love the sport in the here and now

    • mrvandy212
      December 3, 2014 at 11:07 am

      Not sure what Penn State has to do with this whole situation. What happened in this situation has nothing to do with the NCAA giving sanctions or a coach sexually abusing minors. The NCAA penalized Penn State, not the Board of Trustees of the school, as is what’s happening at UAB (putting aside the issue that what happened at Penn State was a non-athletic program issue and the NCAA had no business sticking it’s nose in it, as we are now learning). You want to throw stones at someone, throw it at the trustees and your legislators. Leave Penn State out of it!

      On a side not, UAB is a less attractive option any day than PSU (with OR without what happened at PSU).

    • Tony
      December 5, 2014 at 1:09 am

      Wow Boris, while I agree that what happened at PSU was a tragedy for those kids and there families and I hope Sandusky is getting plenty of similar abuse in prison you should realize that the University wasnt to blame. That sorry individual is. Also the reason the sanctions have been lifted is because they never should have been issued or enforced. The NCAA overreached it’s authority, as it has quite frequently. You see the crimes that occurred happened at Sandusky’s youth football camp which were using the facilities. He wasn’t a PSU coach anymore either he had retired. What happened there was a criminal matter for the state to handle in the court through the justicial system. The NCAA are an organization who are supposed to make sure athletic programs at schools aren’t doing things against amateur athletic rules to gain an unfair advantage. This atrocity actually had nothing to do with the PSU football program so the NCdoubleAssholes really shouldnt have ever been involved in it. What they saw was an opportunity to fine an embarrassed University an awful amount of money that they did what with I’m not sure since they are supposed to be non-profit? What they did was tarnish a great man and like Joe Paterno unjustly and forever. Just for the record he is still the winningest coach in FBS history not Bobby Bowden despite the lie the NCAA created. so please feel free to be disgusted by what happened, and angry, God knows I am. Just place your anger in the right place. And from this Buckeye fan to all the PSU people out there, hope to see you back to your winning ways soon. Some of the best wins and losses for us have happened on the field facing you guys. The BIG10 and college football are a better place when PSU is playing well.

  12. Stuart
    December 3, 2014 at 4:18 am

    $100m in five years is not chump change. Unfortunately most G5 programs lose money, some obscene amounts. Frankly there are a dozen other programs which could be in the next few years. This is not the last school to drop Football.

  13. ND
    December 3, 2014 at 7:59 am

    This is result of rising costs such as paying the players. Mid majors will struggle badly with this decision. They will not be the first school to cut athletic programs. Most schools will cut off other sports to try and save costs. Its not just mid majors either. Some less popular Power five conference schools will be cutting school sponsored programs to meet the challenging fiscal demands.

    People say “pay the players” and “don’t cut programs”. Can’t have it both ways. Fiscally it’s not a model that will work.

    • Patrick
      December 3, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      Title IX will come into play and that will quell the big spending on individual players. PLUS: I will always be greatful to UAB for the beat down on LSU at the tigger,s homecoming’

  14. mike1246
    December 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Instead of eliminating the Div I football program altogether, couldn’t a decision to drop to FCS level been a better option?

    • David
      December 3, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      FCS football still needs a stadium somewhere on campus to play at. And that’s part of what UAT’s BOT refuses to allow to happen. Sad for Birmingham. A stadium like Portland, Oregon’s that could hold MLS, local college football, college soccer, and local high school games on Thursday and Friday nights, right on the south side of UAB adjacent to I-65 is EXACTLY what the city of Birmingham, and the University deserved.

  15. mike1246
    December 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Hard to understand this decision. UAB has been relatively successful with their football program. Maybe the Alabama State legislature needs to convene and look into this situation. It’s not like the Blazers fielded deplorable teams every year. Elilgible for a post season Bowl this year.

    • day
      December 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm

      University of Alabama controls UAB in decision making. I will hope in the future UAB can get control over their own athletic department. I do not agree with this decision but who cares, I have not control over it. Alabama felt UAB football program was going to get to big & they did not want that. I would of loved to see UAB go off into the ACC like UCF or USF but that will not happen now. It is sad but other small schools may suffer the same in the future.

  16. Ricky W
    December 3, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    The board had to find the money somewhere to give Saban another huge raise and buy him a second and third home.

    Some people dislike the TIde for various reasons. More people will after this, and for good reason.

  17. Bob Marley
    December 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I think Conference USA will add New Mexico State, I suspect that UAB will become a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the American Athletic Conference shows interest in UAB since they sit at 11 members because Navy is a football-only member.

    But New Mexico State makes the most sense for C-USA and the divisions will fall into place, very nice. WEST: Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, UTSA & UTEP while the EAST: Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion & Western Kentucky.

    Sun Belt will sit at 10 members at that point in football and if Hawaii shuts down it’s FB program or decides to go independent then Idaho makes the most sense to replace them in the Mountain West Conference.

    • Bill (the one that's commenting for years; not the newbie)
      December 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      11 is a very good number for non football. There is no reason to add a 12th. If Hawaii leaves the MWC, NMSU is far more desirable than Idaho. NMSU offers a better shot at longterm stability while Idaho may be the next team to shut down or downgrade to FCS. NMSU also makes a low-cost travel partner along with UTEP for the other sports while Idaho is notoriously difficult to fly or bus to.

  18. Mike1246
    December 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

    I always wondered why Univ of Alabama did not play UAB in football. Seems like it would have been a natural rival nearby. UAB could have used the pay day for their athletic program.

  19. Michael Pastorchik
    December 7, 2014 at 8:50 am

    I am a Fan of UAB and : Penn State , Air Force , Norte Dame , and Army All These Colleges Have Keep There Football Teams Under worse Conditions .They Should Have Tried to Join the Big 10 They Need a Southern Team and a Western one . I believe They Would Have Taken Them and That would Have Been a BIG BUST for UAB Sports ….

  20. T J MOORE
    January 14, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    A Southern team in the Big 10? right When cows fly. Bama Board should be ashamed to have let this happen. . Birmingham once called itself the football capital of the South! what a joke…

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