In a letter first published by Underdog Dynasty and provided to FootballScoop, B Club members (a booster club of former UAB athletes) Justin Craft, Lee Miller, Izell Reese, Brian Thomas and Roddy White plead with UAB president Dr. Ray Watts to invest in Blazer football, something the school and the University of Alabama system at large has never fully committed to doing since the program joined the NCAA in 1991, amidst allegations that some in the U of A system are working to shuttle the program after the 2016 season.
The group writes:
It is our understanding that you are awaiting the results of a “study” being conducted to determine whether to continue the UAB Football Program. We are also aware that a potential contract extension for Coach Clark as well as the scheduling out of conference games past 2016 has been placed on hold.
There is a library’s worth of literature on the efforts the U of A system and those within it have made to stunt or all out block the growth of UAB football.
For better or worse, and for reasons known and unknown, UAB Football has never enjoyed the unconditional support from some in powerful positions. As former football players, we all have felt this impact through lack of a competitive edge, practice conditions that were not always safe, and subpar training facilities. To debate whether this is right or wrong now is not going to transform our campus or our city. That is why we have to act immediately and boldly to chart a new course.
The program has always struggle to make (or, more appropriately, not lose) money. There is an incredibly easy solution for the University of Alabama system here: schedule them. Alabama paid $1.4 million this September to play Southern Miss, not only denying U of A-system bunkmate the chance at a greatly-needed pay day, but aiding a rival program in the process.
At 5-4, UAB is off to one of the best starts in school history. It may not sound like much, but it’s true. The Blazers have played in one bowl game in their history, a 59-40 loss to Hawaii in the 2004 Hawaii Bowl, and appear on track to qualify for a second this winter.
In many ways, a study to that could potentially portend the end of UAB football comes at the strangest possible time. The team is winning. They program is on stable footing after a successful hiring in Bill Clark, whom we dubbed as the best under-the-radar hire of 2014 earlier this fall. It is worth noting that Tulane commissioned a similar study in 2003 and chose to remain in the ranks of major college football. The school has since built an on-campus football stadium and moved to the American Athletic Conference.
In the B Club’s opinion, delaying long overdue capital improvements and Coach Clark’s contract extension would potentially jeopardize the future of our football program. As you are aware, to lose football is to lose conference affiliation and to lose conference affiliation means that basketball and the rest of our outstanding sports programs would be relegated to the lower echelons of the NCAA. These thoughts are unacceptable and we know your leadership will not allow such drastic and un-beneficial decisions to be made.
See the full letter below.