UAB to shut down football program after 2014-2015 academic year

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The 2014-2015 football season will be the last for the UAB Blazers, the school announced in a news release. The school came to the decision after working with CarrSports Consulting to review and inform analysis and planning.

The announcement was made Tuesday that the school is cutting its football program, as well as its bowling and rifle program, “in order to more effectively invest in the success of priority programs” the school believes are more likely to succeed and bring national prominence.

Scholarships of impacted players and contracts of impacted coaches will still be honored, the school says. Players who choose to transfer from UAB and play at another school will not be required to sit out of competition the following season.

The decision to cut the programs was made as a part of the school’s strategic planning process.

“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,” UAB President Ray Watts said in a news release. “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.”

Watts met with coaches and players at a closed-door meeting inside the football offices Tuesday afternoon to discuss the decision. He says the school subsidizes two-thirds of the $30 million operating budget for the athletic department.

Watts says the funds from the football, bowling and rifle team programs will be redistributed to UAB’s “priority sports” to help them compete and build them into championship programs.

“We are not looking to reduce the athletic budget, but instead to reallocate our resources to remaining athletic programs,” Watts said in a news release. “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.”

The school also announced plans to reassign UAB Athletic Director Brian Mackin to a newly created position as the special assistant for the president for athletics.

The announcement comes after three days of protests on the UAB campus as students and fans showed up in droves to express their support for the football program.

In the first year under head coach Bill Clark, the Blazers (6-6) became bowl eligible for the first time since 2004.

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