Free UAB supporters turn backs on Watts at UA Board of Trustees - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Free UAB supporters turn backs on Watts at UA Board of Trustees meeting

UAB supporters turned their backs while President Dr. Ray Watts spoke at the UA Board of Trustees meeting on Friday. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC UAB supporters turned their backs while President Dr. Ray Watts spoke at the UA Board of Trustees meeting on Friday. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
UAB President Dr. Ray Watts. Source: WBRC video UAB President Dr. Ray Watts. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

It was a rowdy meeting today as the University of Alabama Board of Trustees met for the first time in Birmingham since UAB President Ray Watts decided to terminate the football and other programs.

In a packed room at the UAB Alumni House, the board heard loud and clear that a number of UAB students faculty and supporters are not happy about the decision about football and Dr. Watts.

Free UAB supporters held up signs calling for President Watts to be fired. One sign said, “UAB Zoo today only! Lots of snakes and one bear cub.” Another read, “SACS is coming and they know a lot.”

When it came time for Watts to address the board, many of the Free UAB supporters stood and turned their backs on the embattled president.

"You heard a vocal group today. You haven't heard all the other people who have reached out to me and said, 'We may not agree with the decision but we support you,'" Watts said.

Watts admitted he made mistakes in making the football and other decisions with little input from students and faculty.

"I want to hear all of the voices. I want to have a dialogue. I'm fully committed to open, shared decision-making,” Watts said.

After Watts spoke, the UAB faculty senate chairman and the president of the undergraduate association told the board faculty and students have little faith in Watts' leadership. They also question the motives of the board in the decision.

"The overwhelming majority of faculty is concerned with the president's disregard of shared governance and are skeptical it can be exercised under the current leadership," Chad Epps, Chair of the UAB Faculty Senate said. 

"There is real and growing distrust towards the board. This distrust will not go away. It will continue to fester and build resentment," Anjali Wagle, President of the UAB Undergraduate SGA, said.

Some students shared their displeasure as well.

"You guys don't know what you are doing. Pretty much shutting our football team down, making the number one region in the state angry,” UAB grad student Dana Lackey said.

Members of the board say they have heard the message and the board is prepare to meet with representatives of the UAB community to restore trust. UAB supporters are still suspicious.

Speaking for the board, trustee Joe Espy said the concerns were heard and the board plans to reach out to the faculty, students and UAB supporters. 

Espy and others board members continue to support Watts. Espy also questioned using taxpayers dollars to support athletics at UAB. 

"Do you want to take from public education $20 million? Since I've been on this board, $200 million has been taken from public education at this institution," Espy said.

Despite the call for a change of leadership Watts said he will not step down. 

“No I don't have any intention of resigning because the mission of this great university is huge and this is one factor," Watts said.

So how can that trust be restored? One Free UAB supporter had this answer.

"The removal of Ray Watts as president immediately, the restoration of UAB football and equal representation on the board of trustees," William Curtis, a UAB alumnus, said.

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