The UAB football team spoke to president Ray Watts on Tuesday during an emotional meeting after the program was shut down for financial reasons. Sports Illustrated's Thayer Evans reported over the weekend the school was planning to end the program, and the announcement was officially made on Tuesday.
The UAB football team spoke to president Ray Watts on Tuesday during an emotional meeting after the program was shut down for financial reasons.
During a meeting with Watts on Tuesday, players confronted him about the decision to shut down the program. Players spoke about the physical toll the sport takes on them and their commitment to representing the university.
Senior tight end Tristan Henderson, a 26-year-old Army veteran, asked how he was supposed to explain the situation to his son. He also questioned Watts for not being fair to first-year head coach Bill Clark, according to a transcription from The Washington Post.
“This man walks to you, walked in your office and said, ‘You’ve got to do it the right way for me to be here.’ And you said you would. And now you just pull the plug? So you lied to the man’s face?”
In a statement released on Tuesday, Watts said the university decided to end the program for financial reasons.
“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.”
UAB finished 6-6 to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2004.
- Paul Palladino