UA Board should undergo reform

Matthew Bailey

UAB football appears to be once again in trouble from their biggest foe, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. The University of Alabama Board of Trustees oversees the entire University of Alabama system, which includes UAB and UAH. There have been quite a few questions over the years regarding its preference for the Tuscaloosa campus.

The Board of Trustees consists of 15 regular trustees as well as one position appointed by the Governor and another appointed by the Superintendent of Education. Twelve of 15 trustees graduated from the University of Alabama, two graduated from UAB and none from UAH (one member graduated from both UAB and UA). It is time the UAB and UAH campuses get some more independence or the board 
gets reformed.

Over the years, the Board of Trustees rejected multiple opportunities for the UAB football program to become more competitive. In 2006, it rejected the hire of Jimbo Fisher for $600,000 a year because they said it was too much money, even though boosters would pay most of it. Now Fisher is coaching the undefeated FSU and is on a 26-game win streak. I think it’s likely he would have been much better than Neil Callaway.

The board has also stymied any effort by UAB to get out of dreadful Legion Field. The team needs to move out of Legion Field and that area of town, but the Board of Trustees refused to consider plans for a replacement stadium. The multiple interferences by the Board of Trustees towards UAB Football over the years have made it quite clear where it stands on UAB’s independence in athletics.

Additionally, UAH does not have anyone on the board to help in the important decisions that affect their campus. When the board unanimously selected Robert Altenkirch in 2011 as the new UAH president, not one of the voting trustees had graduated from UAH. UAH’s hockey program could also become a very serious question with the Board of Trustees over the next couple of years, and given the attitude it has towards UAB football, that’s probably not a 
good thing.

UAB and UAH are in terrible positions for continuing to be able to make decisions affecting their own campus without biased University of Alabama grads choosing what they really need. Because of this, UAB and UAH either need more autonomy in deciding what is right for their campuses, or the Board of Trustees needs to be reformed so the representation of each school is significantly more balanced. Clearly some reform needs to happen.

Alabama and Auburn would hate it if their athletic and school decisions were left up to a group that is looking to benefit another school, but that’s exactly the position UAB and UAH find themselves in now.

Matthew Bailey is a third-year law student. His 
column runs biweekly.