It’s over. Just like that.
On Tuesday, Dec. 2, the University of Alabama-Birmingham announced that it was discontinuing its football program. That decision makes the institution “the first in college sports’ tier to do so in nearly 20 years,” reported the New York Times. Terminating the program was due to financial reasons.
“As we look at the evolving landscape of NCAA football, we see expenses only continuing to increase,” according to a news release on Dec. 2 from the university’s president, Dr. Ray L. Watts. “When considering a model that best protects the financial future and prominence of the Athletic Department, football is simply not sustainable.”
Players and coaches were disappointed after hearing the decision. Watts held a meeting with the team, which escalated into an emotional exchange among players and coaches.
“You’re telling me it’s because the numbers didn’t look right?” UAB senior tight-end Tristan Henderson said to the president. “And you’ll go home and sleep in a comfortable big-ass house. But it’s OK.”
In a release UAB stated, that the school subsidizes $20 million of the athletic department’s operating budget of roughly $30 million annually and added that both those numbers rank fifth in Conference USA. According to the release, that equates to a $100 million subsidy from UAB to the athletic department over the next five years, The University stated that the difference over the next five years would be an additional $49 million with football, according to ESPN.com.
University Alabama-Birmingham students protested outside the president’s office. A video of the meeting has been shared on Twitter, where some are supporting the players and coaches with a UAB football hash tag. “I wish nothing, but the best for the players and coaches. #StayStrong,” read one tweet. “Every kid is not able to get a scholarship to Alabama or Auburn, but still wanna play on the D1 level and he just took that away #UABFootball,”another tweeted.
The scholarships for players and coach contracts will be honored. The final season will be
the 2014-2015 academic year.