The University of Alabama at Birmingham announced Tuesday that it has shut down its football program. Sports Illustrated's Thayer Evans reported on Sunday that the announcement was expected some time this week.
In the press release announcing the decision, President Ray L. Watts said the "financial realities" it faces from an administrative standpoint made the football program unsustainable. The bowling and rifle programs will also be dropped in the 2014-15 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,” Watts said. “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 also announced that athletic director Brian Mackin has been reassigned from his position, at Mackin's request. Mackin will fill the role of "the newly created position of special assistant for Athletics," according to the release. Mackin will "assist student-athletes and coaches affected by the discontinuation of programs." Mackin had been UAB's athletic director since 2007.
“While Brian has been leading the strategic review process for the Athletic Department, working closely with our consultants to inform and guide their analysis, he does not wish to lead our newly constituted Athletic Department,” Watts said. “I respect his decision and thank him for his 12 years of service. In his new role, Brian has a great opportunity to make this transition easier for the affected athletes and coaches as they work to make the best decisions for their futures.”
UAB finished this season 6-6 under first-year coach Bill Clark. Clark took over a program already lacking financial support and one that hadn't had a winning season since 2004.
UAB football players were told about the decision in a meeting with Watts on Tuesday. According to an NCAA spokesperson, UAB players will be able to transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year.
- Mike Fiammetta