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)
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.