UAB Cans Football Program
December 3rd, 2014 by Justin Thomas
This decision was made after UAB had a consulting firm do a campus-wide study over the past year to determine whether or not keeping a football program was fiscally responsible.
In a statement from the University, UAB explains, “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.” The University went on to explain, “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.”
University President Ray Watts defended the decision, saying, “While this will be a challenging transition for the UAB family, the financial picture made our decision very clear. We will not cut the current athletic budget, but in order to invest at least another $49 million to keep football over the next five years, we would have to redirect funds away from other critical areas of importance like education, research, patient care or student services.”
Needless to say, the students and student-atheletes don’t see it the same way as Watts.
In a meeting consisting of Watts, and the players, coaches, and other staff members of the team, many voiced their opposition and emotional displeasure with Watts’ decision.
One powerful voice came from 26-year-old senior tight end, Tristan Henderson. Henderson is a former MP in the Army who did a tour in Iraq, and has a son to support.
“He looked me dead in my eye and asked me, ‘What are they going to do?’ My 3-year-old … what am I supposed to explain to him?” Henderson emotionally told Watts and his fellow teammates.
Henderson quickly changed his tone as his voice cracked with overwhelming emotion as he said to Watts, “You’re telling me it’s because the numbers didn’t look right? The numbers didn’t look right? And you’ll go home and sleep in a comfortable, big-ass house. But it’s OK.”
As he worked his way all the way to the front of the room, Henderson went on to defend his teammates and coaches, first citing that most of the people in the room were 17 or 18-years-old. “What are they supposed to do? Some of these cats came from 3,000 miles away and came right here to be a part of this. To be a part of all of this,” Henderson exclaimed.
The rest of Henderson’s emotional outburst is on YouTube.
UAB players have reportedly been told that they will be allowed free transfer to other schools and programs. The school still has not made a decision as to whether or not they will participate in a bowl game, seeing as they are bowl eligible with a 6-6 record.
UAB becomes the first major college football program to shut down since 1995 when Pacific shut down.
So what is the true cost of college sports, both financial and emotional?