Roy Exum: A Crucial Tip For UAB

Sunday, June 14, 2015 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

In the next 18 months, the University of Alabama-Birmingham must raise $13 million in order to resurrect the football program. In December, university president Ray Watt probably got death threats when he grievously disbanded football in the most football-conscious state in America. Earlier this month, the now-embattled Watts announced he would welcome football back on one condition – you gotta’ pay to play.

Watts’ reversal came after alarmed UAB alumni and fans offered unprecedented support to bring football back. Key backers got $17.2 million in commitments from the UAB Football Foundation and the Birmingham City Council. So thus far, $20 million has been raised to reach a $30 million commitment Watts is requiring for the Blazers to play again in probably the 2017 season.

I believe I know an easy way to do that. Convince the state’s Board of Regents, the legislature or whoever to allow the sports teams at UAB to drop the “UA.” In 2000 the folks at UNC-Charlotte convinced the University of North Carolina, which has poured many millions into the Charlotte campus, to drop UNC, making the 49ers simply “Charlotte.” The branding exercise was marvelous.

Several years ago UT-Chattanooga, which will never be able to adequately thank the University of Tennessee for its largesse, was allowed to become simply “Chattanooga” and I have personally witnessed what the identity has meant to everyone connected with the Mocs’ program. There is an unmistakable pride that comes when you see “Chattanooga” roll across the ESPN headlines or read “Chattanooga” in the national rankings of top teams.

Everybody knows what the University of Alabama trustees have meant to UAB, particularly in the medical school and residency programs. You look at UAB’s campus and, like in Charlotte and Chattanooga, just the physical improvements are enormous.  My heavens, the new library on UTC’s campus is, in reality, “a field of dreams” and the new dorms, from the one now coming out of the ground on 10th Street to another promised on Vine, leave no argument that merging with the University of Tennessee most likely was the University of Chattanooga’s salvation.

Hatton Smith, the CEO Emeritus of RoyalCup Coffee, is heading the UAB fundraising and the new athletic director Mark Ingram (who was once a long-snapper on the UT football team, not the Heisman winner at Alabama by the same name) is infusing a lot of enthusiasm into the quest for an additional $13 million.

“I’d love it if we could raise all the money by the end of the summer,” Ingram told the Birmingham News. “Some people may call me crazy but I’d rather have an aggressive goal.”

And I’m saying people all across Alabama as well as many successful alumni will write a check a lot faster to “Birmingham Athletics” than UAB.

Ray Watts cancelled UAB football to make the budget balance, pure and simple. He has steadily maintained that he will neither borrow money for athletics nor increase the university’s support but concedes that if the $13 million will provide a new weight room training room, locker room, meeting area, coaches’ offices and artificial turf for the practice field, he’s all in.

The university will pay coaches’ salaries, scholarships and related costs but Watts has warned the booster support has to be raised every year. That’s a delicate bet. If the Blazers win, the money should continue, but have two or three losing seasons and the fickle donors will buy tickets in Tuscaloosa or Auburn.

A lot of universities are now depending on endowments to fund athletics. At Stanford, for instance, there is $500 million endowed where the interest supports The Cardinal sports program. The way endowments work is that if a university has an athletic endowment of $1 million at five percent, that’s $50,000 guaranteed year after year. Imagine what $500 million will return, although it should be noted Stanford is at the top of all athletic endowments in the country.

When Charlotte started football in 2011, a full 50 percent of the cost was absorbed in student activity fees. This spring the UAB student government association announced a $25 increase in student fees, which will bolster the football program with roughly $850,000 every year,  but UAB’s huge need is “seed money” to show president Watts UAB backers will indeed “pay to play.”

Now if they can drop the “UA” and spell out “Birmingham” on a football jersey like “Chattanooga” now does, that may be just the trick UAB officials are trying to find.

royexum@aol.com

 

 



Innocent Until Proven Guilty - And Response

What should have been an orderly process of senators interviewing the nominee for Supreme Court was turned into a mockery of our system by the Democrats attempting procedural stallings and pandering to cameras while their anarchist allies screamed and waved signs. Americans were able to see how frightening and unhinged these people become when they can’t get their way. They were ... (click for more)

The Saturday Funnies

Before we get into this week’s edition of The Saturday Funnies, I want to share a fun chunk of information that we can have a lot of fun with tonight. Our pals at the website timeanddate.com were good enough to pass along the fact today marks the September Equinox. And – get this -- if you play this right, it will be just like the farmer says: “On the field of opportunity, it’s ... (click for more)

1 Killed In Crash On Highway 58 Saturday Afternoon

Highway 58 was shut down Saturday afternoon due to a head-on crash with a fatality near Linda's Produce. There were multiple emergency vehicles on the scene. Highway 58 was closed in both directions. More information will follow. (click for more)

Juvenile Shot On East 14th Street On Friday

A juvenile was shot Friday evening on East 14th Street. The Chattanooga Police Department responded at 6:45 p.m. to a person shot in the 2000 block of East 14th Street. Upon arrival, Officers located a male victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Hamilton County EMS responded to the scene and transported the victim to a local hospital. Members of the Violent ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Holds On To Beat Samford, 27-20

The Samford Bulldogs may have won the battle, but the Chattanooga Mocs won the war. Facing each other in a key Southern Conference football battle at Finley Stadium Saturday night, the Mocs had their hands full, but were able to pull out an important victory by a final score of 27-20 before 10,469 fans. The Bulldogs entered the game on a two-game losing streak, but were leading ... (click for more)

Tennessee Swamped By Florida, 47-21, In Disastrous SEC Start

Tennessee committed six turnovers in a disastrous start to the 2019 start of the SEC season before a near sell-out crowd at Neyland Stadium. Florida won 47-21 after jumping out to a 26-3 first-half lead as the Vols self-destructed. The first-half disaster included three fumbles and an interception. There was a near UT touchdown that sputtered away from Austin Pope into ... (click for more)