Friday, Aug. 14, 2015, UAB released a demand that the initial payment on pledges to restore UAB football, rifle, and bowling, shortsightedly killed by Dr. Watts, be made by Sept. 1, 2015, and the 2016 and 2017 payments be made as soon as possible.
Basically, UAB supporters were given a three week notice, at the time of the year when most households are paying for the “back to school” time, to put up the first payment and an additional nine months to pay the next two years. This was in opposition to the original promise deadline of Dec. 31, 2015. Before we get into this issue, let me say that needing an accurate accounting of the money before the start of the fiscal year is logical and required. I cannot fault that. I can however find many serious issues with this letter and, as always, the way UAB is handling this entire event.
First, while I have no issue granting the need to have the money for the budgeting, why was the announcement made when it was made? In the world of public relations (looking at you, Mr. Bakken) a press release like this is made on a Friday so that it will be lost and ignored. This was not done on a day when it could be discussed by the media. And why was it done three weeks before the deadline? Why was it not announced on June 2, when the announcement was made that the sports would be returned? This reeks of an attempt to design failure.
Second, what is the amount needed? How much has been raised? What are the goals? Where did the numbers come from? Are these critical questions ignored for a reason?
Third, and this one is longer term, why should we trust UAB under Ray Watts with the 2016 and 2017 money so far in advance? Will the money be set into a trust? Are we creating the UAB Athletic Department Endowment Fund? What if the department has a budget over-run or shortfall? Will the money for future seasons be raided to sustain the current years? If football winds up not being restored, will the donations be refunded?
Fourth, why are pledges not good enough to figure the budget? That is how the rest of the university and all of the universities in the world work. In fact, everything works by budgeting based on projected income, not on current holdings. Even your personal household budget assumes that you either keep your current job or maintain the current income level. That is why most families are three missed paychecks from bankruptcy. I understand that Dr. Watts has spoken with the authority of Paul Bryant Jr. himself that no more university money can be used, I do, but this change is counter to everything that exists in the world today, and particularly counter to how things work on every other public college campus.
All of that said, the attempt to hide the demands, the lack of a goal or current progress towards it, the fact we are still waiting on a contract for Coach Bill Clark that demonstrates the University is moving forward in good faith, the requirement that we trust the untrustworthy with money in advance, and the new love for cash in hand budgeting, we have no choice but to donate as much as we can now. Send something now and send more later. This is a call for all of those who support UAB. We must play by the rules of those who seek to destroy us.