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
David Cockran Jr.