SBD/November 7, 2014/Colleges

Former UAB Players Worried School Might Cut Football In Wake Of Administration Study

UAB has no non-conference football games scheduled beyond the '16 season
Some former Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham football players "are concerned that the results of a study that's part of a university-wide strategic plan could lead to the elimination of the school's football program," according to Kevin Scarbinsky of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. UAB Athletic Alumni Association VP Justin Craft, a former football player, "has met with UAB President Ray Watts and written a letter to Watts to voice those concerns." Craft said that he met with Watts last Friday "to discuss how they could help the program and to raise some specific issues that had been brought to their attention." Scarbinsky noted one of those issues is that new UAB football coach Bill Clark's original contract "is for three years only when most college head coaches have deals that run for a minimum of four or five years." Another is that UAB "has no non-conference football games scheduled" beyond '16. The meeting also included UAB AD Brian Mackin, State Sen. Jabo Waggoner and State Rep. Jack Williams. Craft said it was a "strong thought after coming out of that meeting" that dropping the football program "could be a possibility." Scarbinsky reported the study "was commissioned by the administration, not by the athletics department." It is being conducted by Bill Carr and Associates, a search firm that has "worked with UAB on recent coaching hires, including the one that landed Clark." Other former UAB players, including Falcons WR Roddy White, also "have their names attached" to the letter Clark sent to Watts (AL.com, 11/5). Watts in a statement said, "One area of focus involves evaluating the investments in football and the resources necessary to achieve and sustain excellence.... It would be counterproductive and inappropriate to speculate on outcomes based on an incomplete process" (AL.com, 11/6).

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: The BIRMINGHAM NEWS' Scarbinsky notes the UAB football team has "as many wins in nine games as the Blazers won the last two years" and attendance that has "more than doubled." The program has a "coaching star in the making" in Clark, as well as "strong support from Mayor William Bell and the city of Birmingham and [County Manager] Tony Petelos and Jefferson County and some major players in the local business community, as shown by the formation of the UAB Football Foundation" (AL.com, 11/6).
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