An editorial on AL.com holds the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees had a larger plan in mind when it killed UAB football via Ray Watts in December. That plan is to have UAB host the University of Alabama medical school and not much else, with the nearly 20,000 undergrads heading instead to the Tuscaloosa campus.
Does any of that sound familiar? If you read our site regularly, it really, really should.
Our own Nicolas Lewis wrote much the same story last month in a detailed post highlighting the tremendous, unsustainable growth at the Tuscaloosa campus over the last decade.
John A. Knox's editorial adds another element to the mix -- he claims a former BoT member told him directly:
At 10:20 am on Dec. 1, 2014, I received a message about what was really going on at UAB. It said, in part:"The hidden agenda is to focus UAB as medical school only, UAH as math and science only ... (board of trustees) presidents have pushed this agenda ... Deep pockets of trustees allow them to buy whatever they want."
Who was the author of this message? No less than a former member of the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees responding to my queries concerning Ray Watts and the imminent termination of football (and bowling, and rifle, as it turned out) at UAB. This source is the ultimate insider, who refuses to go public out of deep fear of retaliation.
Yes, it's an anonymous source, but given what we know so far, the puzzle pieces sure do seem to fit together nicely.
Everyone who's paying attention already knows this story is about much, much more than football. It's about power and autonomy. If any reasonable person was told one year ago that a major university would have its SGA, faculty senate and alumni association all vote no confidence in the school president, and said president would remain in office six months later, they wouldn't believe it.
Stranger than fiction, as they say.
The last 15 years have witnessed repeated attacks on both the Huntsville and Birmingham campuses by the board and its confederates. These attacks have focused on terminating athletics (hockey at UAH, football at UAB), but - as per the guidance of my trustee source - sports are just the tip of the iceberg. The real goal is to stuff the genies back into the bottle once and for all, and to put a cork on the UAB and UAH campuses for good.
This looks to be the real reason for shutting down football. Even UAB itself has evidence the numbers cited when the program was first killed last December do not add up. Here's another set of numbers:
Why would denying undergraduate public education opportunities in Birmingham and Huntsville after a half-century-plus of success redound to UA's benefit? Upon investigation, I found 951,092,958 reasons why.
That's how much UA's "non-current liabilities" were on Sept. 30, 2014 -up 169 percent in the past five years alone. In short, the Tuscaloosa campus is a billion dollars in debt, and the debt is soaring.
Read the rest of the piece to get a full view of Knox's research.
Meanwhile, UAB appeared to dodge a bullet when it was reported Watts and Co. were set to announce Friday night that football will not return. Friday evening has long been the time when unwanted news is dropped since everyone is gearing up for the weekend and most aren't following the news.
UAB took this principle to the extreme in announcing its new AD and "leaking" the CSS report late on a Friday night. For now though, it appears that won't happen.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/HaistenWillis">@HaistenWillis</a> I believe that plan has been derailed.</p>— Jack Williams (@repjack) <a href="https://twitter.com/repjack/status/601551015054286848">May 22, 2015</a></blockquote>
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If football is reinstated, we'll have some reassurance the BoT actually does listen to its constituents, or at least they do when $12.5 million in donations are at stake.
If football does not return, it will be the strongest evidence yet the BoT is out to end UAB's days as an undergraduate institution. The message will be "we truly do not care what you think, and we are going to turn down eight figures to prove it."
If they think that will be the end of #freeUAB, they're even more naive than they appear.