The football program of the University of Alabama-Birmingham was shut down earlier this week by president Ray Watts. Apparently the cost of business to have a football program at an institution of higher learning was too great of an obstacle for a man who last year made more money in salary than the president of the United States. As a matter of fact, in the year 2013 there were only 10 other Public college professors that made more money than UAB’s own Ray Watts.
At POS, we have previously touched on college athletics & how money is the driving force in the many decisions that these universities make. Surprisingly, this is the first time that we have seen a University shut its own football program down. It’s important to note that UAB is not on the same level as “Roll Tide” as it relates to its caliber of a football program. As a matter of fact, the UAB football program has only been around since 1996. Trying to play in the big boy leagues (FBS) when your neighbors to one of the Goliath’s of college football (Alabama) it’s easy to see how UAB had trouble sustaining success on the field to generate fans, boosters, sponsors etc.. However it doesn’t negate the fact that this decision in the grand scheme of things isn’t going to have a drastic effect on the President’s day to day life. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for men like Tristan Henderson, a senior Tight end for the UAB football team. Henderson had a unique path to college coming from Los Alamitos, California. Instead of going to college straight out of high school he joined the army and served an 18 month tour of duty in Iraq as a military policeman. Once returning to the states Henderson found a job, got married, became a father, and attended a community college before getting an opportunity to play for UAB; moving his whole family from California to Alabama for a chance to play football at an FBS college, and possibly as a professional after graduating. (It’s also important to note that in less than 20 years UAB has had at 12 former players play in the NFL)
In this somber video that has recently gone viral, we have UAB’s president Ray Watts hearing the disappointment from different UAB players including an emotional Tristan Henderson. (Starting at 3:30)
Despite much backlash from the student body, players, and the media; there seems to be no turning back from this decision. How ironic that Watts cancelled the football program for “financial reasons” and yet the average student loan debt in the state of Alabama is $28,895. Maybe now that some of these soon to be former UAB players are without scholarships to even attend the university maybe Watts would be generous enough to donate some of his earnings to those players so they can continue their education? After all, what’s $28,895 to a man who made over $800,000 last year?