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UAB football already coming back, returning to FBS in 2017

Six months later, UAB football is back from the dead. Now the Blazers have a date for their return and everything.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

UAB football will be reinstated only six months after it was shuttered, UAB president Ray Watts announced at a Monday press conference. The school, Watts said, is "taking steps" so the program can return to the actual field soon. Athletic director Mark Ingram said the next season could come as early as 2016.

Update, July 21: The school announced 2017 is the target date for its return to football and to the FBS level, where it won't be subject to the usual NCAA bowl ban for transitioning teams. Conference USA says it's "working with" UAB on its reinstatement plan. A version of this story was originally published on June 1.

"Our students, our alumni, the city of Birmingham and now many community members have stepped up with commitments to cover that $17.2 million operational deficit," Watts said. "That's why we're in a position today to make this decision."

Additionally, Watts said there was an "unprecedented" amount of new donations after the decision to kill football, and that it did not have the "tangible" support that it does now. Beyond that, the administration released few details.

Back in December, Watts announced the school would shut down the football program due to financial concerns, as well as the rifle and bowling teams. The original plan was to shut in September 2014, but the announcement was pushed back until after the end of the football season over of fears of a team boycott.

That fear may have been warranted, based on this video of Watts telling the team it was being shutteredThere were even more emotional reactions from players and the UAB community. Months later, former linebacker Derek Slaughter wore his helmet to graduation, where he refused to shake Watts' hand when he walked across the stage.

After months of #FreeUAB campaigning by fans and boosters, the Blazers are coming back to life. Now one big question remains, and we still don't have a lot of answers.

Why kill football in the first place?

Budgetary issues have frequently been cited by the administration, but those problems seem to have been overblown:

Aside from the numbers, the fight over UAB football is rooted in state politics:

  • The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees -- which includes Paul Bryant Jr., the son of legendary Alabama head coach Bear Bryant -- has been accused of trying to weaken UAB for years, supposedly for the gain of the University of Alabama's Tuscaloosa campus.
  • State Representative (and proprietor of Rivals.com's UAB site) Jack Williams accused UAB administration and the Board of misleading the public.
  • Considering UAB's 2014 season was its best in years, with bowl eligibility for the first time since 2004, you're going to see a lot of thoughts like the following:

Watts still claims that the initial decision was necessary, citing the influx of donations that weren't there when the decision was first made.

For the full rundown of the UAB shutdown fiasco, check out our UAB Football section.