Things Get Emotional on Campus After UAB Football Gets the Ax (Pics + Videos)

uab football

The UAB football program got the ax on Tuesday. University president Ray Watts first told players and coaches in a private meeting. Then, minutes later, the school released an official statement to the public, as well as the hundreds of UAB football supporters gathered on campus.

“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 explained in the statement. “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.”

If none of this makes any damn sense to you—how a major college football program in the football mad state of Alabama, a program that’s finally getting good, could somehow be an economic liability—you’re not alone. It doesn’t make any damn sense to the players, either. And things got pretty emotional at that private meeting…which of course was recorded on somebody’s phone and posted on YouTube.

Take a look. The speech of 26-year-old tight end Tristan Henderson, a former MP in the army who did a tour in Iraq, is particularly moving. That begins at the 3:25 mark.

CBS college football reporter Jon Solomon was on campus for the announcement, and the scene he described was pretty depressing.

So is cutting the UAB football program really all about the “numbers”? Not according to a report by Solomon from last week.

Alabama state Rep. Jack Williams says the board has always been opposed to UAB football—because they thought it ate into the Crimson Tide’s market (Birmingham is an hour away from Tuscaloosa), and because of a feud between Gene Bartow, who founded UAB athletics, and Bear Bryant, the legendary coach of the Crimson Tide. The program was allowed to exist as long as it was lousy. But now that UAB football is respectable, Williams believes Paul Bryant, Jr., the son of Bear Bryant who just so happens to sit on the board, has finally succeeded in getting the board to kill the program.

Whacky conspiracy theory? Perhaps. But it makes more sense than “we can’t afford to run a successful college football program in the state of Alabama.”

Hat Tip –  [ESPN]

Tags: Alabama Crimson Tide, college football, NCAA Football, uab,