Despite being on the verge of the first bowl-eligible season since 2004, there is some real concern about the state of the UAB football program building among boosters and former players. Boosters for the program have addressed their concerns to the president of UAB, stating it is their belief the Board of Trustees could be preparing to shut the football program down after the 2016 season.
In a letter written by the UAB Football Foundation and addressed to UAB President Ray Watts, the UAB booster program expressed concerns about head coach Bill Clark not having a contract beyond 2016 and the football program not having any future games scheduled beyond 2016. These two oddities help to suggest a lack of a long-term vision for the program. The foundation says the board has been reviewing data related to the athletics program in an effort to potentially shut down the football program. Football programs can cost a lot of money to operate, and for many outside of power conferences it can be a struggle to turn a profit.
Considering most coaches are given at least a four-year contract when they take over a program, Clark’s three-year deal comes off looking strange. It is also a little strange to see UAB without any future non-conference match-ups scheduled beyond 2016. Charlotte, a new program joining Conference USA in 2015, has multiple non-conference games scheduled for each season through at least 2019. Every other school in Conference USA has at least one non-conference game scheduled through at least 2018, and most have games set for 2019, if not later. In a day when college programs lock up non-conference match-ups years in advance, UAB not having any games set after 2016 is odd.
What the future holds for UAB is unknown. A program competing at the FBS level just falling off the face of the college football map is rare, but not unprecedented. Pacific was the last FBS school to shut down its football program, doing so following the 1995 season. Hawaii has been another program thought to be in some danger as well.
This year, UAB is one win away from becoming bowl eligible for just the second time since moving up from the FCS ranks of college football.
You can see the letter from the UAB Football Foundation via Underdog Dynasty.