Watts: UAB to have firm review data behind cutting football

BIRMINGHAM Ala. (AP) UAB plans to employ a firm to review the financial projections that led to shutting down the football program.

University President Ray Watts announced the decision Friday in a news conference. A committee will choose a company to evaluate the numbers compiled in a study by consultant Bill Carr, which said fielding a competitive football team would cost at least $49 million over five years.

''What we're saying now is we believe that those data are as true as they were when we made the decision,'' Watts said. ''But we want everybody to have the confidence of knowing without a doubt that these were verified. What these data show will help us in our plans moving forward.''

Watts said whatever the outcome, the Blazers will not field a team next season.

UAB eliminated football after first-year coach Bill Clark led the Blazers to their best record in a decade, at 6-6. Watts said it wasn't financially sustainable, citing the initial study.

Watts hadn't spoken to reporters since making the announcement on Dec. 2, but said he has held meetings with university alumni, faculty, students and others during that time.

The Faculty Senate will consider a no-confidence resolution against Watts in a special meeting Jan. 15. The resolution accuses the president of failing to share governance of the university with faculty members.

''I would be foolish if I weren't concerned, because I want the support and I want to give my support to all of our faculty, all of our students, all of our staff and all of our constituents,'' Watts said.

''This has been a good learning process, and I have no question that the university, that myself as a leader and that our community will be better off in the end for having gone through this experience.''

UAB is the first major college program to give up football since Pacific did it in 1995.

Watts said university officials have been talking to Conference USA this week and last week and plan to make a presentation later this month to presidents of the league members. C-USA rules require members to have football programs, and its board of directors will decide UAB's status.

Wes Smith, president of UAB's national alumni association, is leading the seven-person committee, which also includes interim athletic director Shannon Ealy and Faculty Senate president Chad Epps.

''This review will be open, it will be professional and it will be comprehensive,'' Smith said.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell, a UAB graduate, called the review ''one step toward healing and creating a better understanding of how we can move this university forward.''

State Sen. Jabo Waggoner of Vestavia Hills also described it as a positive step and said it gives UAB supporters ''a glimmer of hope to restore the athletic department of this great university to where it should be.''

Waggoner said he's hoping that the eventual outcome will be that UAB will ''have a full-blown athletic department again.''

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