UAB has experienced a dramatic turnaround this year, as first-year coach Bill Clark has the Blazers on the verge of bowl eligibility. But behind the scenes, the future of UAB football doesn't look so bright.
In a letter sent today to UAB President Ray Watts, members of an organization called the UAB Football Foundation have alleged that the Alabama Board of Trustees is considering shutting down the UAB football program after the 2016 season.
The letter (which is embedded below) alleges that the board is studying the viability of the UAB football program, seeking evidence to support shutting down the program. The letter alleges this is why, unlike many of his coaching contemporaries in Conference USA, Clark was only offered a three-year contract last January — as such a deal coincides with the end of the 2016 season. UAB has zero non-conference games scheduled past 2016, which the letter also suggests is deliberate.
UAB Athletics declined comment.
Created last week by Birmingham businessman and UAB booster Jimmy Filler, the UAB Football Foundation states its creation "will help provide the necessary resources to ensure that UAB students have a comprehensive college experience which includes a football program that builds tradition and pride in our university and community." One of the main goals of the foundation is to raise the money necessary to build UAB football an on-campus practice facility. NFL players Izell Reese, Brian Thomas, and Roddy White are part of the group and signed the letter.
Prior efforts to improve the infrastructure around the Blazer program have brought public pushback from the Board of Trustees, which handles the University of Alabama system (Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville). UAB fan ire is particularly directed towards Trustees Finis St. John IV and Paul Bryant Jr. (son of the legendary coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant), the former who was accused of stalling, and killing a 2011 plan to fund an on-campus stadium to replace the dilapidated Legion Field. UAB has no current plans to build an on-campus stadium.
Bryant came under fire in 2006, when he blocked UAB from hiring Jimbo Fisher, and forced the university to hire Neil Callaway, who played under Bryant's father at Alabama. Callaway went 18-42 in five years at UAB.
Check back for more coverage on Underdog Dynasty as this story develops.