Football is king in the south, which makes the news that the University of Alabama at Birmingham is cutting its football team almost scandalous. Citing several reasons for the demise of UAB football, the university’s president had to be escorted away from where the announcement was made by irate supporters of the team.
The football team wasn’t the only sports team eliminated; the rifle team and the bowling team were cancelled as well. When the announcement was made, some of the players became angry and questioned the decision, while others collapsed into the arms of the team chaplain.
As CBS Sports reported, UAB is the first division I university since 1995 to cancel their football program. While most football teams in the south have a long and storied history, UAB has only had a team for 24 years. The decision was made to close down the program for the “greater good” of the school.
NBC Sports reported that UAB President Ray Watts said that the university would have to spend about $49 million over the next five years in order for the program to be competitive.
“As we look at the evolving landscape of NCAA football, we see expenses only continuing to increase. When considering a model that best protects the financial future and prominence of the Athletic Department, football is simply not sustainable.”
Understandably, some of the student athletes were upset and voiced their opinion. UAB tight end Tristan Henderson let Watts know his opinion of the reasons involved with shutting down the program.
“Some of these cats came from 3,000 miles away to play here, to be a part of this, to be a part of all of this! But you say numbers? That’s what you come here to say, numbers?”
The decision to cut the football and other programs will affect about 125 players. Due to the program ending, the NCAA will allow players to transfer to other schools. The football team will soon meet to decide if they want to play in the bowl game for which they became eligible to play in this season.
UAB had a hard time building support among local football lovers because of there are two footballs within the state that have been successful for decades. As the Inquisitr reported, Auburn and Alabama get a lot of attention in the state because of their strong football rivalry. With their recent success, attendance to UAB games grew to about 20,000, far below what the two other schools average.
[Image via NBC Sports]