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UAB’s lack of football complicates its status as a member of Conference USA

Ray Watts, UAB President

Ray Watts, UAB President


With the UAB President Ray Watts making the decision last year to eliminate three sports, most notably football, there was an uproar within the UAB community. One aspect of the move that may have been overlooked by the decision-makers was how the lack of a football program would impact UAB’s standing within Conference USA.

The conference has a bylaw that members must have a football program that plays in Conference USA (or in the case of Charlotte, will participate), which could mean trouble for UAB. According to a report from the conference has let the powers that be at UAB know that said bylaw will not be amended to accommodate the school’s other programs.

What that means for UAB is that unless there’s some move to bring back football, it will in all likelihood have to find a new home for its athletic programs.

Conference USA’s executive committee meets in June and will formally vote on UAB’s future. But there is not interest from two-thirds of C-USA’s presidents to change the league’s bylaws requiring football as a condition of membership.

Assuming UAB doesn’t reinstate football for 2016, the school will most likely be a C-USA member for one more academic year in 2015-16, given the short timeframe for the Blazers to find a new home. C-USA is reluctant to kick out UAB and leave its sports without playing schedules.

When Conference USA was established in 1995 four members, Charlotte, DePaul, Marquette and Saint Louis, did not have football programs but all four were gone by 2005. Charlotte and SLU moved on to the Atlantic 10 that year, with DePaul and Marquette being two of the five C-USA members scooped up by the Big East.

Charlotte has since returned (2013), as the football team will play its inaugural season as an FBS and C-USA member after playing the last two seasons as an FCS independent.

While the article notes that Watts asked C-USA members to keep UAB in the fold despite the loss of its football program, you have to wonder if the possibility of looking for a new conference was considered during studies conducted to look into whether or not they would get rid off football. Because if the league presidents vote as expected in June, UAB will likely have a year to find a new conference.

And from a basketball standpoint, this question does head coach Jerod Haase no favors as he looks to build upon last season’s NCAA tournament appearance and win over No. 3 Iowa State.