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.
Class of 2007, B.A. English/History
Class of 2009, M.A.Ed Secondary English Language Arts
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)