The Return of UAB Football: What Happens Now?


The UAB football program was reinstated Monday six months after school president Ray Watts shut the program down.

UAB football is back.

School president Ray Watts announced on Monday UAB is bringing back its football program after shutting it down six months ago and hopes to play again by the 2016 season but needs more donations and a place in Conference USA and the FBS is in doubt.

More from Conference USA

Back in January, the school announced the creation of a task force to examine the decision. The task force then hired College Sports Solutions to review the decision, at which point they created a committee to fundraise, with the fundraising efforts being led by former UAB Blazer Justin Craft.

The goal of the fundraising was to raise private funds to restore the program and they reportedly got more than $20 million in private donations to cover the sizable deficit the program faced

Watts said that UAB plans to remain a FBS program, which means they need to get to 76 scholarships. If they can’t use 90 percent of their allotted 90 scholarships, then they won’t be allowed in Conference USA.

Conference USA issued a statement earlier in the day applauding the return of the program.

“As a conference we are committed to football, and we welcome the good news that the UAB football program has been given another chance. From all indications, this program will now be able to count on a very strong foundation of community support upon which it will begin the re-building that will position it well for success into the future. Although the lengthy evaluation process was challenging, this final outcome makes it worth the wait. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Birmingham as they plan this exciting new chapter in UAB football.”

After not having a recruiting class in 2015 and 56 players transferring to play at other schools, UAB will have challenges to maintain their FBS status. In addition, Watts also laid out the costs to upgrade the team’s facilities with another $30 million needed.

During the press conference, Watts also expressed how he was confident that the fundraising to amass these figures would occur saying ” We believe that those who love UAB will turn this energy into money.”

The athletic department received the money to cover the athletic department’s budget, but that will not be enough for the facilities upgrade.

What about the coach?

As C-USA coach of the year, Bill Clark is still the head coach of the program. He has two years remaining on his contract, but could be in line for a new deal. Clark also released a statement today, and as expected he too was excited about the news.

“Like all UAB supporters, I am thrilled with today’s news,” Clark said in a statement. “This is a critical first step toward UAB football’s new path. It takes tremendous commitment and support to run a successful football program. We have a lot of work to do but we start anew today!”

Picking up the Pieces 

Even with the reinstatement, UAB will still have a lot of work to do. They need to get 76 FBS-level players on scholarship, which means they’re going to have to find some talent from the junior colleges to get players who can play right away with no other way to get players with college experience.

What happens if the players who transferred out of UAB want to come back? Will they have to sit out the mandatory one year for transferring? If the one-year transfer rule is waived, that could be a quick and ideal scenario for UAB to rebuild quicker. But that’s a pie-in-the-sky scenario.

Challenges are to be expected but the great news at the end of the obstacles and questions that still linger is that UAB faces is they have the opportunity to fix the problem and find a long-term answer to make sure the football program never shuts down again.

For a program without many milestone wins, this may be the biggest in program history and athletic director Mark Ingram

Next: Top 15 Non-Conference Games to Watch in 2015

More from Saturday Blitz