From SACS Principles of Accreditation:

From SACS Principles of Accreditation: 3.2.11 The institution’s chief executive officer has ultimate responsibility for, and exercises appropriate administrative and fiscal control over, the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program. (Control of intercollegiate athletics)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Ray Watts, revisited

By Ralph Harbison
UAB Class of '93

“O villain, villain, smiling, dammed villain!
My tables—meet it is I set it down
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain—“
Hamlet Act 1, scene 5, 106–108

I am not one to quote the Bard. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge Shakespeare fan. I have seen many performances and own some of the movie versions of his plays, and like most everyone who attended U.S. schools, I own multiple editions of much of what he wrote. It is just that quoting him is not part of my typical speech or writing pattern.

But this quote, applied to this situation, is one that I cannot ignore.

When the news broke that Watts had killed UAB’s football, rifle, and bowling teams, I immediately thought that he did so under duress. I figured that he was under more pressure than he could handle and, as a man not made for that position is want to do, he gave in to it. Great trials make legends of great men and women, while leaving those without the resolve broken along the way. That is how history works. For example, in any great (or lesser) battle, any number of troops has the chance to perform some amazing act of gallantry, yet only a few do so. While all have courage, only a precious few have the inner strength to take the steps needed to rise above the din and become those fabled types. Besides, I knew the history of UAB all too well. I knew the stories, both public and private, of the many ways the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees has tried to inhibit the growth of UAB.

I can list them all here, but for brevity’s sake, I will not. Suffice it to say, the pressure on the administration has been amazing, and yet they resisted it. UAB has dorms, a Greek System, an athletic department, and many other programs that were opposed by the UABoT.  From there, I decided that he was a patsy, played as a fool by the Board of Trustees. He was sold a bill of goods about UAB and her need to be shed of the failure of football for the benefit of the campus as a whole.
And yet, my memory returns to a little over one year ago. In the late summer of 2013, the stories started to circulate about how the UAB Honors Program was under siege by Dr. Watts. According to the inside sources, there was a study being done that no one was privy to.

The same sources said that the Program, despite being award winning and a basis for study nationwide, not to mention amazingly successful, would be destroyed and replaced with a typical “within the student’s major” honor’ program. Well, those of us with connections to the program, from faculty to students and alumni, manned the battlements and put up the defense. And Watts backed down, but in the process he labeled Honors Program undergraduates “elitists.” Dr. Watts had sought no input from other stakeholders, he relied on a secret study that seemingly used no real world information, he consulted no faculty, and he ignored any information that countered his pre-conceived notion of what the outcome should be. Does this not match the athletic department fiasco nearly line for line? Except for the outcome, that is.

And then, I learned about the Respiratory Therapy Program. At one time, this was an associate’s program that was converted to a baccalaureate program. A few years ago, the word was given that it would be transitioned into a graduate degree program, much like physical therapy and occupational therapy had been. There is logic to that move. Suddenly, with no warning, the announcement came that the program was dead. Upon further research, we have learned that Dr. Watts did not inform the faculty or students, and that information sent to the Board of Trustees was intentionally misleading to make it appear that the final goal was still the transition, up to and until the program was announced as dead.

Why would a top level medical program not offer a program of this sort? The typical reason given is that there are other places where it can be taken. Please keep that answer in mind. If that is true, can the same not be said for every single major on the undergraduate side of campus?

So, I revisit the videos of Watts killing the football team. I see a cold, calculating, heartless man. I see Tristan Henderson, a veteran of the Iraq war and a “fully grown man” stand up to Watts, calling him out passionately about his “numbers,” and I see Watts not phased. I watch as Ty Long stands and mentions how he has NEVER ONCE seen this man at a game. And then, with the same condescension he directed at the Honors students, I hear him proclaim that he has 41 years as a Blazer (a number quickly proven to be false, simply by looking at his resume) and that we “do not know what we do not know.” And with further reflection, I have revisited my opinion of Watts, and I wish to share it with you.

Watts predates the athletic department at UAB. He is a product of the West Side of Birmingham, and for those who do not know the history of Birmingham, that is the factory town side. That side was also, historically, the most pro-Bama side of town, not that there was ever a pro-Auburn side of Birmingham.  More than likely, he never understood why UAB needed any of that foolishness when Alabama had Bear Bryant. Plus, he was not affiliated with UAB during the rise of the Bartow regime or the birth of the new vision for UAB. These events that are seminal for UAB fans are nothing to him, from the basketball success to the birth of football to the growth of the undergraduate side of campus.  Further, he seems to be driven by a “disorder” that I refer to as “just a” syndrome. For example, it was not enough for him to be just a pre-med student, he had to be an engineering student.

Then, it was not enough to be an engineering student, he had to be a materials engineering student. It wasn’t enough to go to medical school, he had to go to Harvard for his internship. It was not enough to be just a doctor, he had to be a neurologist. At that time, he realized that a neurologist does not carry the same prestige as being a neurosurgeon, so he cannot be just a neurologist, he has to be part of the faculty of a medical school, too. But that is not enough, so he has to be in the administration.

Here is the catch: to someone with this syndrome, everyone else is beneath him. No matter your station in life, your successes or accomplishments, or your impact on those around you, you are nothing compared to him. He does not want or need your input because you are just a {insert your term here}. This also fuels his desire to be accepted by those above him. He craves to be part of the Good Old Boy’s Network, to sip $100 bottles Scotch and smoke imported cigars in some country club. He wants to feel like he is one of the 0.000001% of the population, and not just a pawn.

Watts is a pawn none the less, but not the pawn I had earlier envisioned. At first, I thought he was innocent. Now, I am 100% certain that he is a willing co-consipiritor in all of this. I believe that Watts wants to return UAB to an extension center of the Tuscaloosa campus, removing all vestiges of independence from her. He is still a pawn in that those above him see him as an expendable tool that will be sacrificed to protect them, but he is not a victim.

As he walks the grounds of my beloved UAB, surrounded by armed security lest some of the great unwashed masses attempt to touch him, I see the spin machine try to portray him as a kind, loving man and a wonderful doctor who truly cares about UAB. That description flies in the face of a man who talks down to students, ignores faculty, calls major donors “liars” on national television, threatens and attempts to cajole those he considers beneath him not to vote “no confidence,” and killed the hopes and dreams of the athletes and coaches of two teams by email, much as one cancels an Amazon order. It leads me to conclude that any good attributes seen by his patients were faked by him, a mask put on to trick those beneath him.

The man who stood by, without any sign of emotion, and canceled those sports did not love UAB and did not care one iota about the students or staff. The man who refused to meet with Dr. Messina and discuss the situation does not see the faculty as critical parts and equals in matters of governance. This man is the Vichy France of school administration. This is the same man who, though he and his spin machine, will attack students, staff, faculty, donors, and alumni to preserve his ability to destroy UAB.

I return to Shakespeare, to a quote from Othello that fits many in the movement to free UAB from the Good Old Boy’s Network and create a better tomorrow.

“I hold my peace, sir? no;
No, I will speak as liberal as the north;
Let heaven and men and devils, let them all,
All, all, cry shame against me, yet I'll speak.”

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CBS Sports report shows Ray Watts lied about everything

This report is damning in every respect. If anything says this decision was corrupt, it's this investigative piece by CBS Sports. Thank you, Jon Solomon, for not letting this story die in the national press:

The full CarrSports report is here.

Some excerpts:

The more detailed report includes assumptions consultant Bill Carr made in his work, no financial model for what happens if UAB must leave Conference USA as expected, and UAB's hope to reduce the money it owes for canceled football games by finding new opponents for the impacted teams.

Carr assumed a 20 percent drop in Blazer Club and Champion Club donations for 2015-16. By 2016-17, the study projects a 10 percent increase in Blazer Club donations for 2016-17 when reseating occurs at men's basketball games, followed by 5 percent annual increases. Champions Club giving is expected to increase by 4 percent beginning in 2016-17.

Carr's report to UAB in November uses the same projected subsidy numbers with and without football. The report projects that 79 percent of UAB's athletic department will be subsidized by the university or student fees starting next year, up from 67 percent in 2014-15.

Student fee revenue was $5 million in 2012-13 and is estimated to reach $6.4 million in 2018-19. (UAB has said student fees for 2016 and beyond have not been set yet.) Direct and indirect institutional support is projected to be $14.9 million per year without football.

UAB is projected to lose roughly $2 million per year in NCAA and Conference USA revenue starting in 2015-16. That includes $900,000 in C-USA TV revenue, $800,000 from the College Football Playoff, and $40,000 in C-USA bowl money. also requested from UAB all emails discussing the football program's future among four key stakeholders over the past two years, and documentation showing Mackin's new job description and any compensation change since he resigned last month as athletic director to become special assistant to the university president for athletics. A university spokesman said, "There are no emails pursuant to your request, and there is not a document regarding Brian's reassignment."

It's this last one that bothers me the most. No emails whatsoever? Who's hiding what? And no document regarding Mackin's reassignment? Again, that smacks of lies and corruption.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mama called, and I had to answer

By John A. Knox

In the three weeks since UAB President Ray Watts abruptly terminated the football, bowling and rifle programs without due process, I have logged thousands of miles traveling back and forth to the Magic City.

Why go to so much trouble, some ask?

Because mama called.

You might recognize the phrase. It was uttered by my boyhood hero, Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

When he said it in 1958, the Bear meant “mama” in the sense of “alma mater”—his university. Bryant had had great gridiron success as head coach at Kentucky and Texas A&M. But the team at the University of Alabama, where Bryant had starred as an end in the 1930s, had fallen on hard times. Alabama alumnus “Ears” Whitworth had led the Crimson Tide to only four wins in three seasons, including an 0-10 debacle of a season in 1955. The once-great Tide was shut out eleven times in those three years, twice by Auburn. Instead of embracing mediocrity or abandoning football altogether after these lean years, however, the Alabama faithful reached outward and upward, to someone who could take their program and their university to new heights.

Bryant heard mama’s call, accepted it, and the rest is college football history.

Much later, Bryant used the phrase in reference to his deceased mother, in a famous South Central Bell TV ad: “Have you called your mama today? I sure wish I could call mine.”

I mean this phrase in the same two senses as my hero.

The mama’s cry I have heard from my university, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has been muffled. It sounds like a suffocated scream. The dynamic, ambitious university I knew, led by some of the best university administrators I have ever met, is in a chokehold. The dreams and visions I heard, in face-to-face conversations with its leaders from Joe Volker through Ann Reynolds, are being scaled back—drowned in page after page of consultant-speak and stymied in vision and mission statements that carefully omit any mention of the undergraduate part of UAB.

This is not the university that Joe Volker founded, and I loved.

But the fingers around the throat of UAB are not only Watts’s. From all corners of the university, and at a level above the UAB president, the message I hear is that this is not just about football, or about sports. The message is consistent: the very survival of the 11,679-student-strong undergraduate component of UAB as we know it is at stake.

You can’t try to kill off that big a university without a struggle that leaves marks. And the fingerprints on the neck of the “West Side” of UAB—Watts’s contemptuous phrase for the undergraduate part of UAB that he studiously avoids—correspond to those who pull Watts’s strings. We will learn more about them in the coming months.

Even with so many fingers around her neck, mama gasped out a cry. And, as the Bear said back in 1958, “when mama calls, you just have to come runnin’.”

And so I have.

And so have thousands of others: 11,283 UAB supporters comprise one social media page alone, with the total growing daily.

Because, as Alabama proved back in the 1950s, you don’t just fold up the tent and close the tailgate after a few bad seasons. Sometimes you get stuck with an Alabama alum who just can’t coach worth a lick, instead of a national championship-caliber coach. In 24 years of football at UAB, the Blazers never had a year as miserable as Alabama had in 1955 under Ears Whitworth. Not even when UAB was prevented from hiring Jimbo Fisher and ended up with Neil Callaway, an Alabama alum with a worse head coaching record (.300 lifetime winning percentage) than even ol’ Ears himself (.338)! If Alabama could make it through those lean seasons and emerge on top with Bear Bryant, then UAB could do the same.

Unless, that is, those in high places wanted UAB to fail.

But “mama called” is only half of the reason I’m sitting here in Birmingham right now, instead of spending time with relatives far away.

The other reason is my mom, who died four years ago tonight.

My mom grew up in Kentucky, where a young Bear Bryant made his start as a head coach in the 1940s. Our family relocated to Birmingham in the momentous year of 1963, and followed Alabama football religiously while falling in love with a city that had so much potential buried beneath so much baggage. When UAB landed Gene Bartow and began its athletics program, we became instant fans of Birmingham’s team. Mom’s favorite memories were of UAB beating Kentucky in basketball in the NCAAs, more than once. She loved Blazer football, too, and made sure we all had Hawaii Bowl T-shirts. She would have been so excited about the UAB-Kentucky football matchup in 2016 that was slated to happen… that is, until Ray Watts decided to save money by spending millions on broken contracts.

The night she died, Mom listened to the miraculous UAB win over Final Four-bound VCU in Bartow Arena. I still wonder if that breathtaking comeback—UAB was down 19 points with 13:15 to go in the game—stole the very last breaths out of her.

Like the Bear, I sure wish I could call my mom tonight. But I know in my heart what she’d say. She’d say that miracle comebacks are part of the DNA at UAB, and the city of Birmingham, too. A Presbyterian pastor’s wife with Baptist fire in her, and a partner in our family’s newspaper in Kentucky to boot, she’d tell me to fight like hell for UAB.

And I will. Because this isn’t just about football, or sports. It’s about academic integrity, and the autonomy of a university and a city in the clutches of its bitter foes. It’s about dreams deferred.

In the memories of Joe Volker and Dick Hill and Gene Bartow and my mom, I fight.

John Knox is an associate professor of geography at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA and the 2014 CASE/Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Professor of the Year for the state of Georgia. He is a 1988 summa cum laude graduate of UAB in mathematics, with honors in interdisciplinary studies. He earned a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a post-doctoral fellow at Columbia University in New York City.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UAB Faculty Senate Resolution No. 2: A vote of no confidence in President Ray Watts

This resolution, the second of two drafted by the UAB Faculty Senate at its Dec. 9, 2014, regular meeting, will be presented to the entire senate for approval at a January 2015 meeting:

WHEREAS, shared governance is central to the ability of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to achieve its teaching, research, and service missions, and

WHEREAS, the UAB Faculty Handbook, as approved by the President, Provost, and Board of Trustees states, “the principle of shared governance is essential for ensuring a culture of trust, collaboration, and mutual accountability.” (Section and

WHEREAS, the UAB Faculty Senate Constitution, as approved by the President and Provost, states, the Senate represents “faculty viewpoints on matters of general interest and concern to the faculty and the University to the President and to advise the President, other administrative officers of the University, and members of the Board of Trustees on such matters.” (Article V.1.) and

WHEREAS, the UAB Faculty Senate Constitution further states, “Whenever possible, the President, the Provost, and the appropriate administrative officials must notify the senate of pending policy decisions and other matters of interest and concern.” (Article V.3.) and

WHEREAS, the UAB Faculty Senate Constitution further denotes one power of the Senate as, “sharing responsibility with the President and the Administration for strategic planning” (Articl
V.1.) and

WHEREAS, the Manual of the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama System states, senior administrators “hold positions of public trust of high order, requiring unquestioned confidence in their professional integrity by all the institution's constituencies.” (Section 106) and

WHEREAS, UAB reports, in the 2005 SACS-COC compliance certification, that “policies and procedures affecting faculty cannot be changed without a rigorous review by the faculty.” (Comprehensive Standard 3.7.4) and

WHEREAS, During President Watt’s 22 month tenure, he has failed to apply principles of shared
governance, including decisions related to:
1. Selection of University administrative officers.
2. Disbanding of athletic programs.
3. Changes in academic operations.
4. Changes in faculty benefits.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that recent decisions by President Ray Watts were exercised in a manner that demonstrates no respect for, or commitment to, shared governance.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the UAB faculty has no confidence in President Ray Watts and his ability to lead the University going forward.

UAB Faculty Senate Resolution No. 1 demanding full, transparent review of decision to end football, rifle, bowling

This resolution, one of two drafted by the UAB Faculty Senate at its Dec. 9, 2014, regular meeting, will be presented to the entire senate for approval at a January 2015 meeting:

WHEREAS, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has established itself as one of Alabama’s fastest growing universities, with enrollment increases in recent years, and

WHEREAS, the recent strategic plan for athletics was not performed in a transparent or comprehensive fashion.

WHEREAS, UAB students have reflected an ever-increasing interest in living on campus, being involved in campus life, and expanding the University’s extra-curricular and athletic offerings, and

WHEREAS, in recent years UAB has made dramatic strides in student life through program and infrastructure improvements including the campus green, enhanced on-campus housing, greater athletic offerings, an advanced student recreation center, and a new student center soon to be completed, and

WHEREAS, UAB’s alumni family have expressed their support for athletic programs, specifically citing football’s ability to unify and provide a catalyst for fellowship among alumni and a greater permanent connection to their alma mater, and

WHEREAS, many University constituencies, including city and county leaders, have expressed their support of UAB Athletics and have offered their assistance in facilitating it, anticipating UAB Athletics’ potential to further enrich area entertainment opportunities and provide economic stimulus, and

WHEREAS, the UAB faculty believes that Athletics plays an important role in achieving the mission of UAB and acknowledges that the Athletic Department and all student athletes contribute to the University in positive ways, and

WHEREAS, the NCAA FAR Handbook denotes the need to involve a faculty viewpoint in the administration of intercollegiate athletics program (pg 9) and further states that the FAR should be a senior advisor to matters related to intercollegiate athletics (pg 19.), and

WHEREAS, the strategic plan for UAB Athletics was implemented without the benefit of input from faculty, students, alumni, or the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR), and 

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that UAB Faculty fully support NCAA-sanctioned athletics, including football, rifle, and bowling, and all student athletes that participate, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that UAB Faculty request a comprehensive analysis of UAB Athletics that is transparent and includes consideration of campus-wide impact for discontinuation of any athletic program.

UAB Faculty Athletics Representative Frank Messina's statement to Faculty Senate

Dr. Frank Messina Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) Statement to the Faculty Senate, Dec. 9, 2014:

As the endowed Alumni & Friends Professor of Accounting and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), I am entering my 22nd year on the faculty of UAB.

Last Wednesday, December 3, 2014, in an email entitled, “Shared Governance,” I received a request from the Faculty Senate asking in my role as Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR), if I was included in the discussions regarding the recent decision to eliminate sports at UAB.

I responded by email to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, providing a timeline outlining the extent of my involvement as FAR over the course of the last year in meetings with Carr Sports, a consulting group that I understood was retained to review the performance of the athletics program at UAB and propose strategies for improvement. I give permission to the group for that email to be distributed.

Thank you for this opportunity as UAB’s FAR to formally answer this request. I would like to give you a brief background on my duties as UAB FAR. Much of the initial information I am about to go over is taken directly from the NCAA’s Faculty Athletics Representative Handbook.

As a member of the NCAA, each University is required to have a FAR (NCAA Constitution 6.1.3). Faculty voices and influence have been present in the NCAA for as long as the NCAA has been in existence.

The term “faculty athletics representative” derives from NCAA usage and denotes the perceived need on the part of the NCAA to involve a faculty viewpoint in the administration of intercollegiate athletics programs.

I was officially appointed FAR by President Carol Garrison on October 1, 2008. A partial list of my documented UAB duties as FAR are as follows:
  • The faculty athletics representative provides oversight and advice in the administration of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Athletics’ programs and plays a strategic role to ensure athletic integrity, institutional control of intercollegiate athletics, and enhancement of the student-athlete experience,
  • Provides advice to the President and Provost that reflects the traditional values of the faculty, and which is rooted in the academic ethic of UAB,
  • Promotes a balance between academics, athletics and the social lives of student athletes, and
  • Serves as a bridge between the academic and athletic components of the university working to more fully integrate athletics into the overall educational mission of the university.

In my first meeting with President Watts in February, 2013, I provided him with a listing of FAR duties and a handout from the Faculty Athletics Representatives Association (FARA) entitled, “What College Presidents and Chancellors Need to Know – Faculty Athletics Representative.” Included in the FARA document that I gave to President Watts - it states that the FAR should be an integral part of decision making on athletics though “inclusion in discussions with the president and athletic administrators on important athletic matters.”

In that meeting we together went through my list of duties along with this handout. I wanted to make sure that President Watts fully understood the important role the FAR plays in athletic administration. He stated that he understood and was excited to be working with me as FAR. Since that time, I have continued to meet with President Watts on a regular basis to discuss with him various issues related to UAB athletics.

Several times in the past week I have been questioned about my involvement in the decision that was announced on December 2, 2014, to eliminate certain sports programs at UAB. The only way I know how to answer that question honestly and completely is to summarize the various meetings and discussions I have had since February 2013 regarding the future of UAB athletics:
  • When President Watts became President in February 2013, we had a brief discussion regarding the viability of the football program, which was struggling at that time under Coach McGee. We did not discuss, nor was it proposed, that the football program should be eliminated. Since the arrival of Coach Clark, however, I have expressed to President Watts on many occasions that I believed that the football program was moving in the right direction and that with University support and Coach Clark’s leadership, excellence was achievable.
  • In early 2014, I participated in three strategic planning sessions with Carr Sports (which were large group meetings). It was my understanding that the purpose of those sessions was to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the athletics programs at UAB and what it would take to improve them. There were no discussions during those sessions of eliminating any sports programs. It was my understanding that Carr Sports was going to prepare a strategic plan based on the discussions.
  • In August 2014, I asked Athletic Director Brian Mackin about the status of the Carr Sports Strategic Plan and he informed that it had been delayed because of the changing governance structure taking place within the NCAA, which would apparently impact some financial aspects of the report.
  • During my regular meetings with President Watts this year we did not discuss the possibility of eliminating any sports programs nor was I asked my opinion on such a topic. During my meeting with President Watts on November 13, 2014, I specifically asked him about the rumors regarding the elimination of the football program. President Watts informed me that the University was evaluating the Carr Sports Strategic Plan and that no decisions had been made regarding the elimination of any sports. I expressed my opinion at that meeting that all of our sports programs were very valuable to the University and asked to be involved in any decision to eliminate any of them.
  • On Saturday, November 29, 2014, while at the football game with the University of Southern Mississippi, I asked AD Mackin about the Carr Sports Strategic plan, to which he replied that he had “done all he could do.” He would not elaborate further.
  • Concerned about AD Mackin’s comments, I emailed President Watts and Allen Bolton, Vice President-Financial Affairs and Administration, indicating that as FAR I was receiving inquiries from faculty, staff, students and alumni regarding the athletics programs and that I would like to be a part of the process. VP Bolton emailed me back and indicated that I should be prepared to meet in the next day or two.
  • On December 2, 2014 at 9:00 am, I met with VP Bolton, who informed me that for financial reasons, several sports, including football, were being eliminated and that a press conference would be held later that day. During that meeting, I expressed my opinion that eliminating these programs would have a significant impact on the faculty, staff, and students, as well as the City of Birmingham, and offered some alternatives. VP Bolton told me that he would express my opinions to President Watts.
As FAR, I have been entrusted by the faculty of our University to represent them in the administration of athletics. Based on my understanding of the duties and responsibilities outlined in the FAR Letter of Agreement – Projected Responsibilities, and based on my substantial experience and dealings with the past presidents, I anticipated being directly involved in any meetings and discussions involving the possibility of eliminating any sports program at UAB. Regrettably, that was not the case in this instance.

I hope that I have addressed your question to your satisfaction. I believe that it is an important part of my role as your FAR to respond honestly to questions presented to me by the faculty about my duties. Through my statement here today, as well as the email I sent to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee last week, I have attempted to do that by providing you with my understanding of the facts regarding my involvement as FAR in the decision that was announced last week.

I trust that my efforts to fulfill my duties as FAR by responding truthfully to the faculty’s questions will not be viewed negatively by any of my colleagues at UAB. I plan to continue in my role as Faculty Athletics Representative to the best of my abilities and look forward to continuing to represent you, the faculty, our student-athletes and our University’s best interests.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Fire Ray Watts support continues to grow

Today marks two weeks since UAB President Ray Watts announced his decision -- and apparently his decision alone, with no support or input from anyone at UAB -- to kill UAB football, rifle and bowling. Since that time, the voices calling for him to step down, step aside and/or revisit his decision have grown exponentially.

Watts, however, refuses to budge and continues to double-down on his decision. He was a colossal embarrassment at Saturday's graduation ceremonies, refusing to fulfill is mandated role as University president, and despite being listed as a participant in the programs, sat with his head hung in shame while surrounded by body guards. Hell, he didn't even show up for the doctoral ceremony at noon. If that's not the sign of a spineless leader, I don't know what is.

That said, here's a partial list with links to people condemning Watts and/or demanding his resignation:

UAB Faculty Senate considers no confidence vote for President Ray Watts

Past USGA presidents call for Watts to resign

19 past Mr. and Ms. UAB winners say Ray Watts' decision will destroy UAB

Nursing students call for vote of no confidence

Taking a stand on UAB - again: Birmingham City Council passes another resolution, councilwoman rips Watts

UAB decision reflects troubling secrecy trend at universities

Developers concerned over UAB football decision

Elements of Guile: Ray Watts tells UAB that 'mistakes were made'

Hoover mayor, council call for continuation of UAB football program

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UAB Champion Club: Ray Watts lied point-blank regarding fundraising

A letter to Ray Watts from the members of the UAB Champion Club, posted at the UABStrong Website, reprinted with permission:

December 8, 2014
Dr. Robert E. Witt
The University of Alabama System
500 University Boulevard East
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35401
Dear Dr. Witt,
For many years, the members of the Champion Club have been one of the primary sources of charitable giving to UAB Athletics. We have been involved in countless endeavors to strengthen our programs, facilities, and our institution. The Champion Club has been a driver of funding necessary to elevate UAB Athletics and it has been an honor to do so.
This past Saturday, UAB released information regarding Dr. Ray Watts decision to dissolve UAB football.  Although we disagree with his decision and the assertions included in the rationale, there are two points in particular that are simply not true.  In fact, they are disingenuous, especially to those who have worked so hard for, and care so deeply about, UAB and its impact on our students and greater community.
Below are the excerpts we wish to bring to your attention from UAB's website:

“We met with our biggest donors before we made this decision, and also studied past and current giving. The financial support was simply not there.”
“Suggestions that there existed sufficient philanthropic and community support to maintain football are simply not true. To be clear, we did not turn down a single donation, nor did we receive tangible gifts or written commitments.”

Please be advised that none of us were contacted by Dr. Watts, Brian Mackin or any UAB staff member regarding the alleged deficit reported in the Carr Report. In fact, the vast majority of our members learned of the Carr Report results through the media following Dr. Watt's announcement of abandoning football last Tuesday.  It is important to note that Dr. Watts "officially" had the study for two weeks before notifying the public.  In that interim period, if his intentions were genuine, why would he not make contact with UAB's leading donors and business leaders seek our help and resources in working towards a solution?
This situation is extremely disappointing and has called into question the leadership of UAB. At a minimum, students, faculty, alumni, donors, and most importantly, the players of all impacted sports, deserved a transparent and honest process which would have provided an opportunity to analyze the Carr Report and create a framework that would have saved and elevated UAB athletics and the university.  If Tulane University, who mirrors UAB in so many ways, could work to galvanize and unite their community in saving its football program, surely UAB could have made an authentic attempt to do the same.
To hear Dr. Watts say that he never turned down a single check is also disingenuous because all of us would have made major investments to save UAB Football; however, as with the UAB Football Foundation, the City of Birmingham, and our community at large, we were never given that opportunity.
We want to know why. 

UAB Champion Club Members
Harold Ripps
Don Hire
Adam Cohen
Justin Craft
Charlie Nowlin
Roy Berger
Craft O’Neal
Jimmy Filler
Barney Ireland
David Cockran Jr.
Michael Putt
Don Huey

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Watts support is non-existent on campus

As this post is being written, the UAB Faculty Senate is meeting in a packed auditorium. Based upon news media reports on Twitter (@JohnArchibald, @UABKscope, @WaronDumb), not one member of the faculty or member of the audience has spoken in favor of Ray Watts remaining as president, or in favor of his actions as president. As the meeting transpires, plane is circling campus pulling a banner that says #FireRayWatts.

Multiple faculty members have stated in the meeting that's Watts actions last week have vastly damaged the university's image. His continued actions have not helped. How can this man remain as president and UAB succeed?

Fire Ray Watts is the only vote the senate can take.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Watts' incompetence goes far beyond the football decision

From the "Reader Opinions" section of The Birmingham News:

Watts isn't a competent leader for School of Medicine
Other people have covered all of the pertinent sports stuff. Let me add some unrelated fuel to the "Fire Watts" flames.
While I have close ties to the UAB athletic program, what I really understand is medicine and particularly cardiology. Dr. Watts, although he is an MD, is  not a competent leader for the School of Medicine and has, in fact, almost ruined it. When I was a Research Fellow in Cardiovascular Diseases in the early 1980s UAB was one of the Top Ten Cardiovascular Research Institutes in the world. Now it isn't even the best heart program in Birmingham. Most of this decline has occurred on Mr. Watt's watch.
For example, we do meaningful research in our cardiovascular group, some of which was presented at the American Heart Association meeting two weeks ago. None of our research is in association with UAB. Rather it is in association with Duke University. Our complex arrhythmia work is done in association with Emory University. My work in my personal area of special expertise, cardiac-neural networks and autonomic dysfunction, is in association with Vanderbilt University. The guys at St. Vincent's in Birmingham do our complex cardiac valve work.
Outside our group, Auburn University's new medical school is not part of the UAB network. It is part of the VCOM network headquartered in Blacksburg, Va. UAB needs to dismiss Dr. Watts before he can do any more harm. This episode also underscores the need for UAB to get away from the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and establish its own board.
And another thing: Immediately after reading Dr. Watts email last evening I emailed the UAB athletic department and instructed that my monthly contribution be discontinued. It may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but some of Dr. Watts' mystical mathematics assumes that contributors will continue to send money. If you are a contributor to anything at UAB and you oppose the discontinuation of the football program, vote with your checkbook and tell the university that you are discontinuing your financial support.
I suspect that when money stops flowing in to nonathletic areas, it will get the attention of a number of folks who can make positive things happen.
W. Ross Davis, MDAuburn

Friday, December 5, 2014

How to save UAB $1 million a year

Dear President Watts,

Given the fact that UAB is in the middle of a billion-dollar capital campaign, I wanted to swim against the tide, so to speak, and make a contribution.  See attached for my contribution.  I believe it would be worth, all told, at least $1 million per annum.

John Knox

Garrick McGee knew, when he left, UAB football would be shut down

I just dropped a nuke on the UAB Administration and I copied Ray Watts, Mayor William Bell, and Governor Bentley.

I present to you evidence that former UAB football coach Garrick McGee knew that UAB football was going to be shut down before he left UAB last year, that he was prepared to speak out, and that somebody contacted his agent to tell him to keep quiet. The shutdown of UAB football needs to be investigated…

Elliott Brindley
UAB Class of 2001

School of nursing students vote no confidence in Watts

To the Faculty Senators and Alternate Senators for the UAB School of Nursing: 

We are writing to you as a UAB Nursing students, Blazer fans, and advocates for the University.

We are writing in regards to the Faculty Senate meeting scheduled for Tuesday, December 9, 2014. In light of the events that have occurred this week, we respectfully ask that you consider showing a vote of no confidence in our current President, Dr. Ray Watts. We request this with heavy hearts, but see this as something that should be considered under the current circumstances.

We are confident that Dr. Ray Watts came in as President of the University with the best intentions. We have already seen tremendous growth with our new slogan "Knowledge That Will Change Your World". In addition, we have seen great strides in the Campaign for UAB and the growth in areas such as the new Collat School of Business. Although these strides are great, UAB deserves more.

UAB is a unique school. In the heart of a great city, we come from a beginning different than most schools. What started as an extension grew into a great University. Under the great leadership of Dr. Carol Garrison we doubled undergraduate enrollment and grew as passionate students and Blazer fans. This past year the students have thrived and taken new hope in our football team under the amazing leadership of Coach Bill Clark. But this is not only about UAB Football. This is about the University and the City of Birmingham. We believe this week, Dr. Ray Watts has lost sight of what UAB can be. This is not solely based on the cut of the UAB Football, Bowling, and Rifle teams. This is based off the lack of leadership in the way the situation was handled.

We as students desire to trust our President and support his decisions. We desire a leader who values open communication and seeks the best for the University and the City. We are afraid Dr. Watts is not this leader. From the beginning of the Strategic Plan, Dr. Watts failed to communicate the possible outcomes of this plan. Leadership requires communicating step by step through the entire process, not just waiting to speak up once the rumors have to be addressed. Honesty is necessary to gain trust. After the lack of communication, leadership, and honesty surrounding this situation, we are unsure if Dr. Watts can come back from this. It seems as though he has lost the respect of most students, alumni, and the community.

We support a vote of no confidence because we do not believe Dr. Watts can continue to lead in a setting where he has lost the respect of the people he leads.

In no way is Dr. Watts the enemy in this situation. We should consider where he comes from. He comes from years of practicing medicine and leadership in the UA School of Medicine. Is it possible that all he has seen of UAB is the medical side? Is it possible he has missed the growth of the undergraduate community, the forming of new traditions, and the role sports played in all of this? UAB is finally a school where people have a chance to excel in all areas, including sports, yet that vision seemed to be lost this week. When a vision is established for this University, that vision should not be limited to academics. It should be applied to every area of this University. When establishing the vision for UAB, not only did Dr. Watts fail to include the athletic programs as part of his vision, but he also failed to consider the student athletes involved. Failure for Dr. Watts to envision the potential and the growth for UAB under Coach Bill Clark shows a lack leadership for UAB and a lack of concern for the effects on this City.

His goal to do a Strategic Plan was clearly one where he intended the best for the University. There is no doubt he could be absolutely correct in the decision he made. But, it was not the plan itself, yet the way it was done that lost our trust. There was no warning. We did not hear first from him. Rumors had to circulate for a month before it was ever addressed, and in one day the program Coach Clark worked so hard to rebuild was gone. What about the rest of the University? Email was the chosen method of communication.

So we do not call for a vote of no confidence in Dr. Watts because of merely the cut of three programs. We call for this vote because of the way he has gone through the entire process. The lack of vision, honesty, and communication resulted in a lack of respect and trust in our President. We need a leader that values the opinions of the students he leads. We want a leader who hears the voices of the students and community, and fights for us. We are afraid Dr. Watts failed us in that.

If this past week is an example of his method of leadership in carrying out his Strategic Plan during his term as President, we would be ignorant to think the rest of the University should not be on our toes. Just as a new coach with a new locker room and a great season was cut in one day, we can not trust that new dorms and buildings could stop a decision that is short sighted and more "fiscally responsible."

So we push for a vote of no confidence, because we cannot allow our President to lose sight of the possibilities for UAB and the City of Birmingham.

UAB Nursing Students
Kyndal Cheng, UABSON Class of 2016 
Margaret Lueck, Women’s Rifle, UABSON Class of 2016 
Kaitlyn Gough, UABSON Class of 2016 
Brooks Hinnant, UABSON Class of 2016 
Shannon Donnelly, UABSON Class of 2016 
Anna K. Alford, UABSON Class of 2016 
Kaitlyn Bailey, UABSON Class of 2016 
Erin Hoppens, UABSON Class of 2016 
Bailey Whitfield, UABSON Class of 2016 
Brian Haight, UABSON Class of 2016 
Michelle Tomme, UABSON Class of 2016 
Brandi Sivley, UABSON Class of 2016 
Kimi Wendland, UABSON Class of 2016 
Jillian Bridges, UABSON Class of 2016 
Abby Castleberry, UABSON Class of 2016 
Hannah Leopard, UABSON Class of 2016 
Adrienne Bolan, UABSON Class of 2016 
Jordan Rush, UABSON Class of 2016 
Elizabet Karst, UABSON Class of 2016 
Shivangi Argade, UABSON Class of 2016 
Jessica Stillabower, UABSON Class of 2016

Opposition to Watts continues to grow

Here is my letter to Watts. I sent it to him, the board of trustees, the governor's office, and anyone who should have known to stop him.

To Ray Watts, the undeserving President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham:

What is UAB to me?

It is where I found my calling. I thought in order to be successful, I had to make a lot of money, so I picked UAB for the optometry school. I majored in Biology, but quickly found that I hated it and I was terrible at Chemistry. So I took random classes for a year pondering what I wanted to do rather than what I thought I should do. I changed my major to English and decided I wanted to become a teacher. I met world class lit professors who challenged me to be a better person, not just a better writer. I tutored the athletes through Student Athlete Support Services while getting my Masters in Secondary Education and discovered the dumb jock stereotype was a myth. I still count that time as my most successful as a teacher. I realized that success has nothing to do with money and everything to do with how you touch people’s lives. I helped my football and basketball players become better readers and writers; I helped them learn how to be better learners. But they taught me how to be a better person, a better teacher. I always supported UAB athletics, but suddenly I had a personal investment in seeing those guys succeed both in competition and in life. I am who I am today because of UAB athletes.

UAB is where I found my family. And I don’t mean family like how it is being used in those empty letters from the deans of the different colleges. I mean family both literally and figuratively. I mean true, loyal, honest, drive you crazy but you love them anyway FAMILY. I made bonds that will never be broken with my teachers, my classmates, and my athletes that I tutored. I am friends with many of them on Facebook and continue to keep up with them despite the fact that many of us have moved away from Birmingham. My heart swells with pride at every picture my basketball player posts of his professional career in Europe. I laugh at the teacher stories my Women’s Lit professor shares from her teaching job at a different college now. And I am amazed at all the connections I made at UAB and what they still mean to me 5, 10 years later.

But I also met my husband at UAB. We saw each other in passing in Rast when it was still a freshman dorm. I thought he was a quiet, shy guy. And then I saw him at a football game. His passion and fervor for the Blazers matched my own. We had so much fun cheering on our boys in green, yelling at the refs, and generally making fools of ourselves. And I felt a spark of something that could be. More than 2 years later, our wedding colors were green and gold. In graduate school, we were season ticket holders in basketball despite the fact that we could have gotten in for free with our student IDs. We were there for the infamous Memphis game. We had dreams of becoming boosters one day. Of holding season tickets in basketball and football. Of taking our children to the on-campus stadium. We bled green and gold. We defended our alma mater to anyone who would listen. When people asked us who we pulled for in football (which means Alabama or Auburn in this state), we always answered with the Blazers. Until this week.

Ending football took more away from us than the memories that were; it took away the promise of memories that could have been. As long as there’s no football at UAB, we will not attend any sporting events. We will not donate to any program at UAB, athletic or academic. And we will not pay for our children to attend either. Ray Watts and the UA Board of Trustees have taken away everything that UAB meant to us. And our only course of action is to withhold any contributions we could have made. And it would have been substantial over the years. After all, we did earn 4 degrees at UAB between the 2 of us. We had so much we could have given. But then, so did the members of the football team, the rifle team, and the bowling team.

Free UAB.

Disrespectfully yours,
Hollye Dueitt
Class of 2007, B.A. English/History
Class of 2009, M.A.Ed Secondary English Language Arts

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ways to help remove Ray Watts, get action on UAB

A number of ways are out there to help:

Tonight at 6 p.m., a Rally for UAB will take place before the men's basketball game vs. Morehouse outside Bartow Arena. The game tips off at 7 p.m., and is nationally broadcast on ASN.

Tuesday morning, Dec. 9, at 7:30 a.m., the Faculty Senate meeting in the Kaul Building. This is where you need to strike next. We need a HUGE protest outside the building starting at 7 a.m., and these meetings are open to the public. We need the Mayor and counsel members, local business owners, alumni, and some very sharp, intelligent, passionate, informed individuals to speak. This is a MUST. I've been told several members of the Senate are pissed about this, but unless they are pressed to act, they won't. SO BE THERE!

March on UAB, Saturday, Dec. 13, at 11 a.m. between graduation ceremonies. Meet at the Campus Green at 10:30 a.m.

Contact your U.S. Congressmen, and pressure them to pressure Gov. Bentley:
I have direct knowledge that a major mover from outside Alabama in Congress is watching this, but he can't really act unless our state delegation presses him to do so. So please, call your congressmen and senators today and urge them to act. Ask them to call the governor and encourage him to clean up the corruption and move the Board to reverse the decision.

Remember, this also goes on record for later. Every call to your congressman is logged. We want there to be a record of voter unrest on this matter.

This is an opportunity to take the corruption to a national spotlight, particularly with all the national attention on our program today.

Ask your Alabama legislators what kind of mismanagement is happening in UA system, when the president of its most profitable institution is forced to do something like this. If the medical school is struggling that bad, why? If the federal dollars for research have dried up, why?

Also, stress to each of them that the state, and central Alabama in particular, are going to suffer greatly because of what is happening at UAB.

Contact both senators and your appropriate legislator. If I still lived there, I would call, but they only want to hear from their constituents.

U.S. Senators from Alabama
Senator Richard Shelby: (202) 224-5744
Senator Jeff Sessions: (202) 224-4124

U.S. Representatives from Alabama
Congressman Bradley Byrne - Alabama’s First Congressional District: (202) 225-4931
Congresswoman Martha Roby - Alabama’s Second Congressional District: (202) 225-2901
Congressman Mike D. Rogers - Alabama’s Third Congressional District: (202) 225-2901
Congressman Robert Aderholt - Alabama’s Fourth Congressional District: (202) 225-4876
Congressman Mo Brooks - Alabama’s Fifth Congressional District: (202) 225-4801
Congressman Spencer Bachus - Alabama’s Sixth Congressional District: (202) 225-4921
Congresswoman Terri Sewell - Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District: (202) 225-2665

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Evidence that Ray Watts is a liar

"Rumors are buzzing about significant changes in Athletics. Please do not pay heed to rumors. The
Athletic Department, as every other department, is going through their strategic plan process to reach for excellence. As in every other department, we are utilizing data-driven strategic processes to discuss which areas we want to invest in. We would like to focus on 1 or 2 programs to grow to be nationally competitive and to have a balanced budget. We appreciate what Athletics brings to the table; we are proud of our athletics and do not consider them a lower priority. No decisions have been made yet as the department has just begun their process."

Ray L. Watts to UAB Faculty Senate, 11 November 2014

UPDATE: More evidence has emerged that Watts is lying, and the decision to eliminate UAB football was premeditated, not the result of a study:

Dec. 2, 2014: The day UAB died

Yesterday, UAB President Ray Watts killed UAB football. He also killed the bowling and rifle teams, the marching band, a big chunk of the cheerleading squad and other support groups, and in the process, killed the future education of thousands of Alabama students who, without the scholarships from those entities, will never be able to afford college.

Watts lied, and grown men cried.

The end came from a cowardly email. Watts hid as long as he could, and when he appeared, he had to surround himself with body guards to protect himself from his own student body. The "study" used to justify the decision so flawed everyone who read it  called it a joke. Yet, the decision stood. Some have called it a mercy killing, but really, as my friend Wade Kwon says, it was murder.

Going forward will be difficult. Personally, I will not give one more dime to UAB so long as Ray Watts is president and the current BOT structure remains in place. UAB must be free from the BOT, and have its own leadership who truly have the best interests of the University and Birmingham at heart. Protests are continuing. Tears will continue to flow. But the damage has been done. UAB, and Birmingham, will never be the same again. And people like myself will forever hate Ray Watts.

Today, I am a man with two college degrees. But I no longer have an alma mater.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's time to sic SACS on Watts and the Board of Trustees

This website isn't enough. Now it's time to bring in the big guns: The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the governing body that accredits institutes of higher learning in the South, including UAT and UAB.

SACS must hold the actions of these people accountable. Provide the necessary evidence through the proper channels to launch an investigation of these matters. Be civil, be intelligent, but be quick and vigilant. This must happen to shine light on the misdeeds that led to today.

If you wish to file a formal complaint with the Commission, you must submit two copies of the complaint on a standard complaint form accompanied by two copies of your supporting documentation.  This form is found on the last two pages of the Complaint Procedures located on our website
Documentation of significant non-compliance with the Principles of Accreditation  is the key factor that leads to further investigation of a written complaint.  For your complaint to be considered by the Commission, it needs to be presented as a formal complaint document that meets the provisions of items A-C and includes the checkboxes under the final paragraph on page 2 of the Complaint Form.  In other words, you must tie your complaint to specific accreditation standard numbers. 
Because we require an original signature on the Complaint Form, you should send it via ground mail to Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President, Commission on Colleges, at this address:
Pamela Cravey, Ph.D. 
Coordinator of Communications and External Affairs
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
1866 Southern Lane
Decatur, GA 30033-4097

#FreeUAB is more than football. It's the essence of UAB.

To be candid, I'm not a huge football fan. But the #FreeUAB movement is about so more than that.

I came to UAB in 2010 after a REALLY rough freshman year. I moved 700 miles away from home to take a spot on the golf team. I had no family nor did I know anyone in Birmingham. And yet, almost five years later, I'm still living here. Why? Because UAB is the family that took me in and gave me a chance when I needed it most. And I never turn my back on family.

I won tournaments, set school records, and ran stadiums as a student-athlete. I volunteered with the Student Athletic Advisory Committee and gave my blood, sweat and tears to the athletic program. And athletics has rewarded me right back.

I've met my best friends, teammates and future bridesmaids through UAB. I've been afforded amazing work opportunities, because I had "UAB golfer" on my resume. So by taking away football, it cheapens the experience for the rest of us -- especially student-athletes. Women's scholarships will be cut drastically (oh hey there, Title IX). That means fewer women's teams, fewer students in green and gold, and hundreds of people that will never say the words "Go Blazers."

Every UAB student has a fire within them. And we will not go down without a fight.

Ever faithful, ever loyal.

Jaime Ritter

Lost in the football shuffle: The Marching Blazers

An Open Letter to President Watts

President Watts,

My name is Danny Thompson. I founded the UAB Marching Blazers.

When I say that, I don't mean I was a member of the inaugural marching band. I mean as a student starting in 1992, I personally hounded the music department administrators for a year and a half about the football team needing a marching band. When the team was declared Division I, fellow Blazer Band member Ralph Harbison and I worked with Drs. Panion and Winter, Dr. Gauld, Coach Bartow and President McCallum to form the Recruiting Committee for the Marching Blazers and on the selection of Danny Doyle as the assistant director of bands. A small handful of us picked out the uniforms. We started a newsletter. We arranged for the Jazz Ensemble to take a tour across the state to promote the new marching band.

We took the energy and momentum we'd built turning the Blazer Band into a showstopper at basketball games (that was before your time) and crafted a first-year band 140 members strong that actually made headlines and got attention not only for the athletics programs, but for the music program and UAB as a whole. Because of my efforts in creating this band out of the ether, I was one of two or three non music majors awarded a music performance scholarship.

We had to fight the Board of Trustees every step of the way. I understand your trepidation in standing up to them. McCallum had the fortitude to do so, and was rewarded by being summarily dismissed. Several other past presidents have shared his fate. It is a frightening prospect, to be sure.

But let's be clear about what's at stake here (the fact that we all know that this is about so much more than football notwithstanding). It's not simply a matter of pride. It's not simply a matter three years of my own personal blood sweat and tears invested. There are real people's lives on the line, right here, right now if you acquiesce to the Board of Trustees’ designs.

The 85 Scholarship players will mostly be fine. They will transfer with their eligibility intact. But the rest of the team... guys who came here simply for the chance to play college ball. Not all of them will be able to go elsewhere. There are 85 Lady Blazer scholarships that were added to fulfill Title IX requirements. Those will now evaporate. Entire sports teams will vanish, and the students will either transfer or have their dreams crushed. By you. The hopes and passions of hundreds of kids who came to UAB to march, dance, cheer, spin flags, gone. At your hands.

All of those sports, used as incentives to draw not only top-notch athletes, but academic wins as well, gone. The economic impact of those students, their sports and their fans, lost. That will be a huge hit to several of the schools within UAB (not to mention a city that is struggling to make an economic comeback) from you.

UAB will have to drop out of C-USA, casting other athletics programs (assuming any survive the cut), back down to the Sun Belt (or some similar, lesser) Conference. This will cause massive headaches for C-USA as a whole (the league’s fourth largest television market, evaporating overnight, and a centrally located major team also evaporating overnight in sports across the board). They will look to pull in a similar replacement, most likely from the Sun Belt. That is two separate athletic conferences that will have to completely reorganize. Because of you.

You sit at the helm of what is overwhelmingly the largest revenue producer in the U of A system ... of the state’s largest non-military employer. Yes, your hold on power is at the mercy of the Board of Trustees. But it is YOUR power for the moment and it is substantial. You stand at the crux of one simple decision: Do you want to be the puppet of Paul Jr. and his cronies and the scapegoat for the damage that will be done no only to the football team, but UAB as a whole, Birmingham at large and two regional athletic conferences; or do you want to be the hero to the football team, to UAB, to Birmingham and to those same two conferences and tell the BoT what they can do with their control issues.

We can bombard social media. We can hold rallies and marches and gather support from here to 2016. But you, Dr. Watts. Right here, right now. You have the power to single handedly #SaveUABFootball and to #FreeUAB.

The question is, what are you going to do with it?


--Danny Thompson

Monday, December 1, 2014

Watts' lack of leadership was on full display today

Today, hundreds of UAB supporters marched on the UAB Administration Building, demanding that UAB President Ray Watts make an appearance to answer questions about UAB football and the future of the University itself. Rather than doing what a real leader would do, make an appearance, engage in dialogue, and actually provide information, explanation and demonstrate leadership, it appears Watts was wherever Paul Bryant Jr. was, cowering under his desk.

UAB Media Relations was no better. When asked for a statement about today's demonstration, all it did was re-issue a month-old press release.

UAB, your ship is sinking, and your leader is hiding, with his hands over his ears and eyes, denying anything is happening. If I were a high school senior trying to decide where to go to college next year, there's no way I would select UAB after today's demonstration of utter buffoonery by the administration.

Just to sum up today: 

While Ray Watts was hiding, former UAB President Charles "Scotty" McCallum, the president who started UAB football, was making his opinion of the Board of Trustees, and Ray Watts, known:

While Ray Watts was hiding, the head coach at Alabama, Nick Saban, was making a statement on UAB football:

While Ray Watts was hiding, UAB football players were asking him for the common decency to address them face-to-face about their future:

While Ray Watts was hiding, the Alabama governor issued a statement:

Oh, and this blog was getting media attention:

Ray Watts silence through all of this speaks volumes to his ability to lead: It is nonexistent.

Ray Watts, it's time for you to leave. You've done enough damage.

Steven E. Chappell
B.A., 1991; M.P.A., 1997

Watts, other UAB, BOT administrators disappear as protests mount

Last night, nearly 1,500 protesters showed up at the UAB Campus Green, on fewer than three hours notice, to rally to save UAB football. Community members, students, alumni, athletes and the Marching Blazers -- with instruments -- voiced their support for UAB football for more than two hours. A few images from last night's impromptu protest:

At that rally, a group decided a more visible show of support was needed. The group decided this morning, at 8:30 a.m., students and any other supporters of UAB football who wished to attend, would march from thefile:///Users/stevenchappell/Downloads/Lightroom_4_LS11_mac_4_4.dmg Campus Green to the University Administration Building to demand a statement from UAB President Watts, and that they would not leave until they had one. The rally has blocked traffic on the streets surrounding the administration building, and the crowd has continued to grow. Local businesses delivered free pizza to the demonstrators. These are some images from that march and protest:

Seniors from the UAB football team, team that on Saturday became bowl eligible for the first time in a decade under the leadership of first year head coach Bill Clark, are demanding Ray Watts tell them to their faces why he doesn't support them. You can read their story here:

As of 1 p.m. CST, three and a half hours after the protest began, not a single UAB administrator has bothered to confront the crowd or offer a statement. In fact, a Birmingham News reporter said via Twitter that, when she called UAB Media Relations for a statement on this morning's protest, all they did was email her Watts statement from a month ago about the "study for the future of UAB." Clearly, no one at UAB this morning, aside from those actually protesting, have a clue what's going on at that University or in that administration. The lack of leadership is appalling. Ray Watts is not a leader, and he should not be allowed to continue to hold the title of president of UAB. He's a puppet of Paul Bryant Jr. and the BOT, and nothing more.