By KYLE ITO
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) president Ray Watts officially announced the university’s plans on December 2 to shut down the football team for good. This news shocked many people and was extremely disappointing for many UAB fans.
The announcement came only a day after UAB became bowl-eligible for the second time in the school’s history. Under Bill Clark, former Jacksonville State head coach, the team went 6-6 this year, its best record since 2004. It is amazing what Clark has managed to do with the team considering it did not have a winning season in a decade and was underfunded. Clark will be the final head coach for the program; fans are in shock because he provided the team with a bright, promising future.
At the end of the 2014-2015 academic year, the program will be officially shut down, mainly due to the team’s lack of funding. The school stated it could not afford upgrades and facilities for the football program in the future. Although I am disappointed these programs will be ending, I believe the school’s administration must do whatever is necessary for the future of the university. In a statement regarding the decision, Watts said to Sports Illustrated, “We are being careful and thoughtful in our disciplined process with lots of input—and we will reach the right outcomes for UAB.”
The UAB Blazers made only $9 million in revenue in 2013, compared to other teams in the power conferences who usually make $40 million in revenue. This is not only a problem with UAB. Many other Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football programs are making less revenue than UAB, approximately 39% of the 126 programs. This is an indication that multiple other football programs are likely to be shut down, joining UAB.
The last football program to be shut down was University of the Pacific in 1995. Other schools like the University of Hawaii are considering doing the same because they are not receiving the revenue needed to keep the program functional.
If other schools decide to shut down their football programs, the power conferences may be the only existing conferences in the FBS. This is disappointing for both players and fans of the universities because they are losing a sports team that represents a sport significant to the culture of the United States. It is a sad reality that many universities are unable to fully support fields outside of academics, a problem that will hopefully be resolved in the future.