An athletics task force for the University of Alabama at Birmingham has pledged nearly $6 million in an attempt to bring back the football program and other sports.
UAB eliminated the football program, along with rifle and bowling teams in December, with school president Ray Watts citing that continuing those programs, especially football, was too expensive.
More than 150 people pledged money, and last month a study funded by UAB boosters disagreed with Watts’ assertion about the school losing money because of those sports.
The school said those sports would cost $3.75 million, but according to the booster-funded report, reinstating the three sports would actually bring a profit of more than $500,000 to the school.
“I'm overwhelmed at the support," Justin Craft, the head of the task force's fundraising subcommittee, told AL.com. "This is really something people want. I think Birmingham wants this program to return."
Craft, who also says that money is needed to get the football team to return, wants to try to convert the UAB Football Foundation pledge agreements into official school gift agreements.
An important hurdle was cleared when the school adjusted the language of the gift agreement form allowing donors to receive a full refund if the football program was not reinstated by Jan. 1.
One task force member even said that school accepted a six-figure donation he wrote on a cocktail napkin.
"It'd be a double standard if they truly are sincere about wanting to gauge interest...I don't think the title at the top of the form should make a different," Craft said. "But now that the changes have been made, we are totally happy and want to transition as many as we can."
- Scooby Axson