By Kyle Parmley
For The Tribune
BIRMINGHAM — The UAB Faculty Senate took steps toward sending a strong message Tuesday morning in a regularly scheduled meeting, in response to the decision to shut down the university’s football program.
Following an executive session lasting nearly two hours, chairman Dr. Chad Epps announced that the Senate voted to propose two resolutions, one of them being a declaration of no confidence in UAB President Ray Watts. Such a resolution would mean that the faculty of the university no longer believes in his ability to effectively lead the school.
“This is one of the most powerful statements that can be made with regards to the faculty,” Epps said.
Neither resolution, the other being in support of athletics and of a re-evaluation of the transparency among the athletics department, means anything official at this point. The Senate required at least a two-thirds majority vote to approve the drafting of the two documents, which will then be disseminated amongst all faculty at the university and voted on officially. The vote will take place at a specially called meeting on a date to be determined, presumably sometime in mid-January.
Watts didn’t attend the meeting, but had a statement read to the people gathered.
The decisions made regarding athletics were not the only items considered in the no confidence resolution. The faculty disagreed with the president’s handling of UAB’s “shared governance” policy in recent weeks.
“We have a constitution that denotes the powers of the Senate,” Epps said. “Many of the things the faculty should have input into, we wonder if we shouldn’t have had more input.”
An auditorium in Cudworth Hall housed the meeting due to the high volume of people attending. Alumni, students, and faculty were allowed to voice opinions in the preliminary phases of the meeting, all of them emphatically disagreeing with Watts’ decision last week to end UAB’s football program. Concerns ranged from the welfare of the student-athletes to the lack of leadership displayed during this time.
The NCAA requires all schools that conduct athletics programs to have a faculty athletics tepresentative, a title held by Frank Messina at UAB since 2008. He read from a statement during the meeting, explaining his duties and his involvement in the process to eliminate the football program.
“I felt that I was not allowed to perform my duties,” Messina said.
Messina said he asked Watts to be included in any decisions to be made regarding the athletics programs, as his job description states, but was not allowed to do so.
There are currently six players on the UAB roster from The Trussville Tribune coverage area. Senior running back D.J. Vinson, redshirt freshman safety T.J. McCollum, sophomore running back Marcus Reaves and redshirt freshman linebacker Brandon Fuller all played at Clay-Chalkville High School. Junior wide receiver Jamal Hundley and freshman linebacker Joseph Roberts played at Hewitt-Trussville High School.
Vinson has exhausted his playing eligibility. The other five players in the coverage area will be able to transfer to another FBS football program and play immediately, as opposed to sitting out the typical one year of competition.