Earlier this month, Ray Watts, the president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, announced that UAB would be dropping its Division I football program, the first university to do so in 20 years. I haven’t paid much attention to the fallout, but today the LA Times summarizes the swift reaction:
Watts said the decision was strictly financial: After spending $20 million each year subsidizing an unsuccessful team, it was time for UAB to cut its losses and put academics before athletics.
….These are fighting words in Alabama. After announcing his decision Dec. 2, Watts needed police officers to escort him through a crowd of angry fans outside Legion Field, the school’s outdated off-campus stadium, where he met with Blazer players and coaches.
….All of a sudden, almost everyone is a football cheerleader: The City Council passed a motion in support of UAB football; the university’s Faculty Senate drafted a resolution of no confidence in Watts.
Look, I get that the football players are angry. I even get that all the boosters who hadn’t stepped up before are now swearing that they would have donated millions of dollars to keep the program alive if only Watts had asked them. But the Faculty Senate? At a bare minimum, shouldn’t they have had the back of a president who wanted to stop draining money from academics into football, even if no one else did? Yeesh.
Anyway, the gist of the story is that without a consistently losing football program to rally around, UAB is now certain to wither away and die. Why would anyone want to be be a student there, after all? What’s left? A bunch of hoity toity classes and labs and stuff? What a waste of some perfectly nice property in the middle of town.
UPDATE: Apparently my reading comprehension is weak today. As the Times story says, the Faculty Senate is considering a no-confidence motion in Watts, but hasn’t actually voted on it yet. That won’t happen until January 15.