I am dumbfounded by the unfair personal attacks against Dr. Ray Watts and UAB’s decision to shut down football.
We say we want brave leaders who are willing to make unpopular decisions when it’s for the greater good—but that certainly is not how we are responding.
It appears almost everyone—student, public, and media—are unanimously dumping on Dr. Watts. These are the same folks who had the opportunity for years to support Blazer football, but were missing in action.
No person or organization can do everything well. If you want to be successful in life you have to set priorities and make difficult decisions.
If you want great football, you have the option of going to Alabama or Auburn.
If you want state-of-the-art medical care, stay here in Birmingham at UAB. UAB saved my wife’s life from breast cancer and may one day very well save your Mom’s mind from Alzheimer’s.
You can conjecture all you want–but none of us have all the facts.
Dr. Watts had the information and context to make a very painful decision.
In an article in the New York Times this week titled, “It’s a game of spiraling costs…” referencing UAB football–“David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University, based on a study to be published in the Journal of Sport… calculated that in 2012-13, Mid –American Conference students spent on average more than $300 per semester subsidizing athletics. During a time of mounting student debt, that is nearly $2,500 over four years.”
Though Dr. Watts graciously took full responsibility for the decision to shut down UAB football—the UA Board of Trustees continually made decisions to undermine it. Dr. Watts is dealing with the hand he was dealt.
Dr. Watts graduated from West End High School, earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering at UAB, and graduated from Washington University School of Medicine as valedictorian. He then completed a neurology residency, medical internship, and clinical fellowships at Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Watts is one of the smartest–most visionary leaders I’ve ever met….and he’s willing to make tough unpopular decisions.
Do we really want to second-guess him?
Editors Note: Edits made to this post 12.7.14 based on information received after date of original publication.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising Agency and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).