Alabama-Birmingham’s football was on the rise this season, but as of Tuesday, the team is no more.
UAB president Ray Watts met with athletes and students to announce that the school was shutting down its football program. The university used the results of a consulting firm’s campus-wide study to make the decision.
“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 said in a statement, via ESPN. “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.”
Athletes and supporters understandably were upset after the school’s announcement.
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The 6-6 Blazers are bowl-eligible and will meet to decide if they want to play one last game should they receive a berth.
But the decision goes beyond just football. There are now hundreds of players, coaches, band members and cheerleaders who don’t know what’s next for them. There are recruits without a recruiter.
UAB’s bowling and rifle programs also were cut, and the school’s other athletic programs might be affected as well, because Conference USA requires its members to sponsor football.
“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,” Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said, per ESPN. “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.”
The UAB Blazers are the first FBS program to be shut down since Pacific in 1995.