Alum Roddy White 'hurting' for UAB

Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White on Wednesday voiced his support for the University of Alabama-Birmingham football program, which will be dissolved by the school following this season.

White released the following statement on Wednesday regarding his former school:

"I would like to begin by saying that the University of Alabama-Birmingham and their football program provided me an opportunity and many others the opportunity to further our education while continuing to play the game of football. UAB was the school that gave me a chance to play college football and ultimately provided me an opportunity to play in the NFL."

"I am hurting for those kids that were members of that UAB football team. I am hurting for those coaches that did a great job of getting the team Bowl eligible this year, and I am hurting for the UAB community. The football program was a big part of that community, and the people in that area made great impacts on the lives of those young men, including myself. I know those players are going through a lot of emotions right now, but I want them to know that you have an opportunity to continue playing college football and continue to work towards your degree.

"Do not allow this decision to derail your dreams. Again, I am appreciative of my time and experience at UAB, but I am saddened that there will no longer be football there."

White starred at UAB from 2001-04 before becoming a first-round draft pick of the Falcons in 2005. White recently stated he was doing anything he could to help save the program.

UAB on Tuesday became the first major college program since Pacific in 1995 to shut down football. The university said keeping the football program would cost an additional $49 million over the next five years, including $22 million in facilities and upgrades.

Senior tight end Tristan Henderson was among several players who voiced their objections to school president Ray Watts during a meeting in which he told the team's players, coaches and staff of the decision. The moment was captured on video from several rows back, closer to the rear of the room, and posted to YouTube.

UAB, which had a consulting firm conduct a study that included athletics over the past year, said in a news release that it subsidizes $20 million of the athletic department's operating budget of some $30 million annually, and said both those numbers rank fifth in Conference USA. Despite the numbers outlined by UAB, Watts insisted at an afternoon news conference that the decision is not about financial woes. This is about planning for excellence in the future in everything we do.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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