UAB Blazers

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The UAB Blazers are the athletic teams which represent the University of Alabama at Birmingham. UAB is a member of the "Conference USA" athletic conference and competes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. The Blazers' team colors are forest green and gold and the mascot is a fire-breathing dragon named Blaze.

UAB athletics is known primarily for the success of the men's basketball team. The university's athletic department was created in 1978 by legendary basketball coach Gene Bartow who led the Blazers basketball team to the elite eight of the 1982 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, played in Birmingham at the BJCC.

UAB began its football program as a club team in 1989 joining Division III of the NCAA in 1991. The program moved up to Division I-AA in 1993 and finally to Division I-A in 1996 under head coach Watson Brown and becoming a football-playing member of Conference USA in 1999. The football program was eliminated after the 2014 season. The football Blazers played the majority of their home games at Legion Field. After a 2 season hiatus the football Blazers returned to the field under the leadership of Bill Clark. In 2021 the team moved into newly constructed Protective Stadium.

In addition to men's basketball, UAB also has programs in men's sports for baseball, golf, soccer, and tennis. Women's sports programs include basketball, bowling, golf, rifle, sand volleyball, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. The university announced that the women's bowling and rifle teams would be eliminated at the conclusion of their 2014-15 seasons. UAB will add a men's cross country team beginning with the 2015-16 academic year to maintain the school's Division I status. Six months later, the University reversed the decision, restoring the three teams.

UAB Blazer athletic programming is broadcast on the Blazers ISP Radio Network, including WJOX FM 94.5 and WJQX FM 100.5 in the Birmingham area.



Main article: Blaze

UAB's first intercollegiate athletic team, Gene Bartow's men's basketball squad, was set to begin competition in 1978. In late 1977 a group of student leaders were brought to the offices of the UAB Student Government Association to brainstorm ideas for names. One of those students, Tommy Burns, suggested "Trail Blazers" as appropriate to a newly-launched program. He was also inspired by the recently-crowned NBA champions, the Portland Trail Blazers. After some discussion, the suggested name was shortened to "Blazers" and submitted, along with three other suggestions to a vote of students, faculty and staff in January 1978. Students Eddie Smith and Ted Greer helped to popularize the "Blazers" suggestion, which won the poll with 1,147 votes, versus 586 for "Barons", 451 for "Titans", and 386 for "Warriors."

The Blazers name did not immediately suggest a mascot, and over the years there have been a number of costumed mascots representing the Blazers. Since 1996 "Blaze the Dragon" has served as the Blazers' official mascot.

Alma Mater

Here in Alabama, a place of rich diversity,
stands our Alma Mater. We cherish her integrity.
May each loyal son and daughter wear
proudly the colors green and gold.
Praise to thee, our UAB. Her honor we uphold.

Yearning minds of age and youth
live and love her noble truth.
Moving ahead with blazing speed
t'wards knowledge to empow'r,
in the heart of Birmingham our UAB stands proud.

Blazer Victory

The music and lyrics for "Blazer Victory" were written by Danny Doyle for the UAB Marching Blazers prior to their debut season in 1994. Doyle intended the song, "to sound like a turn-of-the-century piece," as a means of "appreciation for tradition" among students.

All hail alma mater
We sing this song for thee
Raise up the banner, for Blazer victory.
(Fight! Fight! Fight!)

All hail alma mater
We pledge to always be
Ever faithful, ever loyal
To dear old UAB!

Fight song

Main article: UAB fight song

At UAB in Birmingham
All hail our players bold
They are the mighty Blazers
Who wear the green and gold.

Tonight let's fire their golden blaze
The flame of victory
Go Blazers! Go Blazers!
Win for UAB!


Main article: UAB Blazers football

UAB began its football program in Division III of the NCAA in 1991. Jim Hilyer was the first head coach of the Blazers, from 1991-1994. Watson Brown took over as head coach in 1995 and oversaw the team's advancement into Division I-A in 1996, and membership in Conference USA in 1999. The program was discontinued after the 2014 season.

In 2000, UAB achieved a monumental victory by beating Nick Saban's LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. In 2004, UAB earned their first bowl trip, losing to the University of Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

UAB played the majority of its home football games at Legion Field. Through its marketing department, the team has sought to establish the University of Memphis as its primary on-field rival, creating the "Battle for the Bones" trophy for the winner of the annual match-up.

Following the 3-9 2006 season, Watson Brown resigned to take the head coaching job at Tennessee Tech, in his home town. The search for a replacement focused first on Louisiana State University assistant Jimbo Fisher, but the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees rejected the proposed contract amount [1]. Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway was named head coach on December 17, 2006. After 5 seasons and a 18-42 record, Callaway was fired and replaced by Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee. McGee left after two seasons and former Jacksonville State head coach Bill Clark was named as his replacement in January 2014.

UAB Head Football Coaches
Coach Years Wins-Losses
Jim Hilyer 1991-1994 27-12-2 (.692)
Watson Brown 1995-2006 62-74 (.456)
Neil Callaway 2007-2011 18-42 (.300)
Garrick McGee 2012-2013 5-19 (.208)
Bill Clark 2014, 2016-2021 49-26 (.653)
Bryant Vincent 2022- 0-0 (.000)
Overall 162-173-2 (.484)


Men's basketball

Gene Bartow

The UAB Blazers, in effect, started its entire athletics program with the creation of a men's basketball team in 1978. Setting the standards high from the start, UAB hired former UCLA and Memphis State University head coach, Gene Bartow. Known to many as the "Father of UAB athletics", legendary Coach Gene Bartow led the Blazers to almost instant success. Since their inaugural season, the Blazers have made 15 appearances in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament including 3 Sweet Sixteen appearances and 1 Elite Eight appearance. After only 43 years of basketball, UAB has had 37 winning seasons; 26 20-win seasons and had memorable wins over the Virginia Cavaliers, the Kentucky Wildcats, the Louisville Cardinals, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Indiana Hoosiers, and the Memphis State Tigers among others. In 2004, the school once again gained national attention when it upset No. 1-seed Kentucky in the second round of the tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The Blazers have amassed an impressive 664 wins to only 385 losses since 1978 giving UAB the 25th best all-time winning percentage in college basketball history. The UAB men's basketball team has been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll more than 30 times in school history and has even been ranked among the Top 10 in the nation. Through the 1988-89 season, UAB played its home games at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Today, UAB plays its home basketball games in Bartow Arena. The current head coach, Andy Kennedy, was named head coach of the Blazers in the spring of 2020, the seventh head coach in UAB basketball history.

UAB Blazers Men's Basketball Head Coaches
Coach Years Wins-Losses
Gene Bartow 1978–1996 365-204 (.641)
Murry Bartow 1996–2002 103-83 (.554)
Mike Anderson 2002–2006 89-41 (.685)
Mike Davis 2006–2012 123-75 (.621)
Jerod Haase 2012–2016 80-53 (.602)
Rob Ehsan 2016–2020 76-57 (.571)
Andy Kennedy 2020- 49-15 (.766)
Overall 885-525 (.624)

Women's basketball

Since its inaugural 1978-1979 season, the UAB Blazers women's basketball team has an overall record of 668-575 (.537). The team has claimed five conference championships and has been invited to two NCAA Tournaments, including an appearance in the Sweet 16 in 2000. The Blazers have also participated in five WNIT tournaments, advancing once to the Elite Eight, and were the champions of the 2011 WBI tournament. The team, originally called the "Lady Blazers", adopted the gender-neutral moniker under coach Audra Smith.

UAB Blazers Women's Basketball Head Coaches
Coach Years Wins-Losses
Fran Braasch 1978-1981 58-33 (.637)
Avie Bridges 1981-1984 37-44 (.456)
Bill Ivey 1984-1987 38-50 (.432)
Jeannie Milling 1987-2004 265-230 (.536)
Audra Smith 2004-2013 138-138 (.500)
Randy Norton 2013-Present 163–112 (.593)
Overall 699-607 (.535)


The UAB men's baseball team plays home games at Regions Park and at Young Memorial Field on University Boulevard. The baseball coach is Casey Dunn, who left the cross-town rival Samford Bulldogs team. Dunn joined the Blazers on June 23, 2021.

The Blazers have had six former baseball players make it to the Major Leagues. Hector Villanueva played 4 seasons (1990 - 1993) with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals; Chris Hammond played a total of 14 seasons between 1990 and 2006 with 8 different teams (Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Florida, New York Yankees, Oakland, San Diego); Garrett Whitlock has played 2 seasons 2021 - 2022 with the Boston Red Sox; Graham Ashcraft has played 1 season, 2022 with the Cincinnati Reds; Brewer Hicklen has played 1 season, 2022 with the Kansas City Royals; and James Naile has played 1 season, 2022 with the St. Louis Cardinals.


The women's softball team plays at Mary Bowers Field.


Men's Soccer

UAB began a men's soccer program back in 1979. Throughout its history, UAB has enjoyed quite a bit of success in both the men's and women's soccer programs. The men's team has been in the NCAA Tournament a total of 7 times including 1 Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2001. The men's team has been ranked both regionally and nationally numerous times throughout its history. One of UAB's biggest wins in the men's team history came when UAB upset the #1-ranked UCLA Bruins in 1997 by a score of 2-0. UAB would upset another #1-ranked team in 2006 when they beat the SMU Mustangs by a score of 2-1. The men's team plays their home games at UAB's PNC Field. Jeff Kinney is the head coach of the men's team.

Women's Soccer

Though only beginning a women's soccer program only in 1996, the UAB women's soccer team has already been in the NCAA Tournament and has also been ranked several times in its history. The UAB women's soccer team has won the Conference USA Championship 3 times in ten years, including the most recent in 2006. Erica Demers is the head coach of the women's team. Like the men, the women's team plays their home games at UAB's PNC Field.

Former sports

UAB currently fields a varsity synchronized swimming team. Established in 1999, the program was spurred by the interest of President Ann Reynolds in the sport. On April 10, 2008 the University announced that the team would be disbanded at the end of the 2009 season. It was being discontinued because of the very small number of NCAA-sanctioned competitors across the country.


Conference championships (50)

UAB monogram.png The University of Alabama at Birmingham
Blazers Athletics Baseball · Basketball · Football · Hall of Fame · Mascots · Soccer · Softball
Athletic Venues Bartow Arena · PNC Field · Intramural Field · Legacy Pavilion · Mary Bowers Field · Track and Field Complex · West Campus Field · Young Memorial Field
Campus Alys Stephens Center · Campus Green · Hill Student Center · Lister Hill Library · Mervyn H. Sterne Library
Housing Blazer Hall · Blount Hall · Camp Hall · Denman Hall · Gold Hall · McMahon Hall · Rast Hall
Media BlazeRadio · Digital City Films · Kaleidoscope · UAB Reporter · UAB Magazine  · Vulcan Historical Review
People Administrators · Alumni · Faculty · Miss UAB · Presidents · Professors · Scientists · Staff
Schools Collat School of Business · College of Arts and Sciences · Dentistry · Education · Engineering · Health Professions · Heersink School of Medicine · Nursing · Optometry · Public Health · Graduate School
UAB Medical Center Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital · Kirklin Clinic · UAB Health Centers · UAB Highlands · UAB Hospital

See also