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UAB president responds to letter from football alums

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On Wednesday we had a story of former UAB football players pleading with school president Dr. Ray Watts to support and invest in the football program amid speculation that some within the University of Alabama system were working to shut the program down after the 2016 season. You can read that here.

Less than 24 hours later, Watts released a statement to AL.com confirming that UAB was studying football's place within the university, but that the university was also studying a lot of aspects within its reach. Watts declined to speculate on what the study may or may not bring. The third paragraph is key.

"More than a year ago, UAB began the most comprehensive campus-wide strategic planning process in our history, calling for the 10 schools, College of Arts and Sciences, Honors College, Information Technology, Research Administration, and other units to develop individual strategic plans, set priorities and implement long-term goals.

"Within that framework, the Athletic Department is conducting a full strategic review of its programs. The Athletic Department has engaged outside experts and is exploring a full range of options - not all of which will be implemented - to reach its desired results of sustained excellence.

"Not surprisingly given the size of the program, one area of focus involves evaluating the investments in football and the resources necessary to achieve and sustain excellence now and into the future. We've been working for many months on this data driven process, and it would be counterproductive and inappropriate to speculate on outcomes based on an incomplete process -- not just related to athletics, but across the campus.

"We are working to accelerate the timeline for completion of the strategic plan and will communicate with the UAB community in the near future. Although we certainly welcome input from our fans and supporters and value their enthusiasm, the fact is that rumor and innuendo will be distracting to our coaches and players who have big games in the coming weeks."

"We are being careful and thoughtful in our disciplined process with lots of input - and we will reach the right outcomes for UAB."

UAB football has nothing on the books beyond the 2016 season; new head coach Bill Clark's contract expires after the 2016 campaign, and the Blazers do not have any non-conference games scheduled beyond 2016.

Seems to us that one way to kill the rumor and innuendo Watts references at the bottom of the fourth paragraph is to come out and state that UAB will continue playing football as an FBS member in 2017 and beyond - but he didn't do that.