The University of Alabama-Birmingham community was rocked when it was announced football, bowling and rifle would be discontinued. A review committee was formed and faced with the decision of whether to reinstate football.
UAB turned to College Sports Solutions to evaluate its athletic department, top to bottom, and advise as to the costs of reinstating and maintaining football. Other issues included gender equity and conference affiliation considerations.
UAB faced numerous hurdles to not only reinstating football but ensuring continued support and success. Our work addressed five critical questions for UAB:
- The sustainability of its FBS football, women’s bowling and rifle programs
- Membership in Conference USA vs. membership in another conference without football
- Financial benchmarking against Conference USA and other institutional/conference peers
- Research on the tangible and intangible effects of sponsoring intercollegiate football on a college campus
- The viability of garnering additional financial support from alumni, donors, ticket holders, and friends of the University, UAB students and faculty, and the surrounding Birmingham community
CSS’s final report included a complete budget analysis, both with and without football. In addition, the report included detailed benchmarking against peers in Conference USA, Division I non-football peers and other Division I FBS conferences.
Other topics covered in detail in the report included facilities improvements needed, debt service possibilities, conference affiliation options without football, Title IX/gender equity, potential sources of funding and the effects of having football on campus.
On June 1, 2015, it was announced UAB would reinstate football following successful fundraising of more than $27 million for the program. Conference USA agreed not to take any action against UAB and allow the Blazers to stay in the conference. On August 29, 2016, UAB broke ground on a $22.5 million football operations center, which included a covered pavilion practice field.
UAB Football returned for the 2017 season and played in the Bahamas Bowl. The Blazers won their first conference championship in program history in 2018 and subsequently won its first bowl game in the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl.
UAB also reinstated women’s bowling and rifle.