Board of Trustees shows clear biasBy Kyle Simpson | 11/11/2014 9:40pm
Rumors and speculation that the University of Alabama at Birmingham is considering ending its football program began swirling last week. There is concern that the new head coach, Bill Clark, has not received a contract extension beyond 2016 despite making great strides in his first year. There are also no non-conference games scheduled beyond 2016, which makes many Blazer supporters nervous that UAB’s 26th season may be its last.
If these rumors are true, UAB fans will be angry and rightfully so. It raises concerns about the fact that the University of Alabama System is completely controlled by the same Board of Trustees. Of the 17 members on the Board, 14 attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and only two attended UAB. It is a board that while giving millions to Southern Miss, Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic for the privilege of losing to the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, hardly financially supports its UAB football team and even vetoed a proposed on campus stadium in 2011. A board of trustees that clearly doesn’t have all of its schools’ best interests at heart shouldn’t be in charge of decisions as big as this.
It isn’t that there is no money – UAB is in the process of building a $1.5 million stadium for its soccer program. The UAB football boosters have created a plan to build an indoor practice facility without athletic department or university funds. Surely a sister school to the University of Alabama could expect to receive at least a small amount of support from the University’s wildly successful athletic department.
There are many reasons to keep UAB football around. UAB, without the full support of its own Board of Trustees, has done some big things in its short history. Since its inaugural season in 1991, the Blazers have qualified for postseason bowl play, produced NFL players like Roddy White and Joe Webb and even beaten SEC powerhouse LSU. Under the leadership of new head coach Bill Clark, UAB is one win away from bowl eligibility only a year after going 10-2. It feels like the program is a new stadium and a few recruiting classes away from serious success. If the football program were cut, flourishing rivalries with Southern Miss, Troy and South Alabama would be cut short. The city of Birmingham and the nearly 18,000 students would be deprived of one of the most exciting parts of college: a college football program.
I am as big of an Alabama football fan as anyone else on campus, but I also hate to see another program treated unfairly. It makes sense that the Board of Trustees wants to keep UAB down. We already have to compete with Auburn and the rest of the SEC for football recruits, so another football power in the state would make it that much harder. Regardless, the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees should not have any control over the athletic departments at UAB and University of Alabama at Huntsville. It simply isn’t fair.
Kyle Simpson is a sophomore studying biology. His column runs biweekly.