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June 14, 1977
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Memphis Blazer Offline
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Post: #1
June 14, 1977
40 years ago tomorrow.

UAB hired a new coach. Turned out to be decent.

Below is a copy of the article I posted 10 years ago. A whole series of posts regarding the birth of UAB athletics is in the Histoey forum.

Quote:The Birmingham News, Tuesday, June 14, 1977

It’s official: Bartow takes UAB posts

By Wayne Martin, News sports writer

The University of Alabama-Birmingham athletic teams don’t have a mascot.

Matter of fact, University of Alabama-Birmingham doesn’t have any athletic teams. But UAB does have a basketball coach, one that just about any major basketball power in the nation would be proud of.

The UAB coach is Gene Bartow, introduced to Birmingham at a press conference this morning. The UCLA head coach for the past two seasons will assume his duties as head basketball coach and athletic director at UAB on September 1, with sights set on a basketball team for the 1978-79 season.

“You have to walk before you can run,” Coach Bartow said, “but I feel we should be able to run fairly quickly. We should be able to develop an attractive schedule and within a year or two or three we hope to have a lot of people exicted about our intercollegiate program.”

The former Memphis State coach who coached a year at Illinois before going to UCLA to replace John Wooden was introduced by UAB president S. Richardson Hill. Also seated at the head table were Ebney Camp of the UAB Board of Trustees, Dr. Joseph Volker, Chancellor of the University of Alabama systems, and Dr. Jerry Young, UAB Vice-president for finance who was instrumental in bringing Coach Bartow to Birmingham.

“The rumor that Ara Parseghian is coming to UAB as football coach is untrue,” Dr. Hill told members of the media who had gathered to hear the official announcement of what everyone had known for several days. But the man he did introduce is just about as big in his sport as Parseghian was in football.

“We wanted the best individual in the United States to head our program,” Dr. Hill said. “This is a great day for the University system, for the University of Alabama-Birmingham, for the city and the state.

“Birmingham has long needed big-time college athletics.” Hill added. “Going by what has been shown in the state of North Carolina, NC-Charlotte has kindled a new interest in basketball in that state. We believe basketball at UAB will do the same at Alabama and Auburn, as well as other placed in the state.”

Bartow said he first started talking with UAB representatives in terms of suggesting people to head the program, but then felt the challenges of starting the new program would prove exciting. That, plus the prospect of moving back to the Southeast, he said, helped him make the decision to accept the UAB post.

“Four of the happiest years of my life were spent at Memphis, Tenn., (as coach of Memphis State),” Coach Bartow said. “I just thought of my family and I would enjoy living in a city like this.”

Some supporters of UCLA had become disenchanted with Bartow, however, and he had suffered criticism in the media in Los Angeles. “I told a friend of mine from Los Angeles last night that if I had gone 64-0 and won two national championships I probably wouldn’t have considered moving. But really, in the final analysis, that didn’t have all that much to do with it.”

Dr. Young said the school felt it would take a budget of $300,000 to get the program going, and Coach Bartow said the program should be self-supporting.

“We have 13,000 students, 8,000 employees, and in a city this size, there should be no problem in making the program balance the books at the end of the season. There will also be friends of the school who will help.”

But the big problems right now are players, and a schedule. “We hope to sign eight or nine players – probably four or five from junior colleges – next spring, and pick up two or three from the campus.” Coach Bartow said. “We’ll play a schedule by the 1978-79 season.”

As for scheduling, Coach Bartow said he hopes to play the best people available, but will “never call C.M. (Newton of Alabama)” for a game.

“If C.M. ever feels it will be beneficial to his program, then he’ll say something.
The schedule is a most interesting challenge,” he added. “With the help of the student body president, booster groups and other people we can play a lot of people. We would like to play people like NC-Charlotte, which was in the top four (in the NCAA tournament) this year, any of the Metro 7 conference teams, and any other major school.”

Bartow said that because of UCLA scheduling structure of playing as many as 20 home games a season and other games set up for television purposes, he feels it is “highly unlikely” that UAB and UCLA would ever get together.

Memphis State was in the Metro 7 during Bartow’s time there, but he has not yet talked to UAB officials about the possibility of seeking a conference affiliation.

Aside from schedule and players, the other major hurdle is a staff. First comes a pair of full-time assistants, then coaches to start establishing athletic teams in other sports, including golf, tennis, swimming, baseball and track, for men and women. “I have in mind six or eight coaches who have established themselves in college coaching,” he said. “I think it is very important that we have collegiate people who have experience in recruiting.”

Bartow said he hopes to have his staff pretty well set by the time he takes over Sept. 1.

One media representative among the sizeable gathering from throughout the state asked about reaction in Los Angeles. “I haven’t been in Los Angeles a great deal lately,” Bartow said, “but I understand that some people feel I need psychiatric help.”

Bartow has a career record of 310-153 in 16 seasons of coaching at five colleges. His career includes carrying Valparaiso to the NCAA College Division tournament, plus talking Memphis State to the NCAA championship game before losing to UCLA. Memphis State also played in the National Invitational Tournament under Bartow.

He began his coaching career at the high school level in Missouri, has also coached non-collegiate teams that have competed in Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In 1972, he coached the Peurto Rican national team to fifth place in the Munich Olympics.

Under his leadership, the US All-Stars won eight straight games during a 1973 tour of China, and in 1974 he coached the US team to a 6-1 record and a second place finish in the World Games in Puerto Rico.

Bartow and his wife Ruth have three children, 16 year old Murray, 21 year old Mark and 8 year old Beth.
06-13-2017 07:58 PM
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notnow Offline
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Post: #2
RE: June 14, 1977
Thanks for posting this.
It was indeed a great day.
06-14-2017 05:03 AM
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Jball Offline
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Post: #3
RE: June 14, 1977
(06-13-2017 07:58 PM)Memphis Blazer Wrote:  40 years ago tomorrow.

UAB hired a new coach. Turned out to be decent.

Below is a copy of the article I posted 10 years ago. A whole series of posts regarding the birth of UAB athletics is in the Histoey forum.

Quote:The Birmingham News, Tuesday, June 14, 1977

It’s official: Bartow takes UAB posts

By Wayne Martin, News sports writer

The University of Alabama-Birmingham athletic teams don’t have a mascot.

Matter of fact, University of Alabama-Birmingham doesn’t have any athletic teams. But UAB does have a basketball coach, one that just about any major basketball power in the nation would be proud of.

The UAB coach is Gene Bartow, introduced to Birmingham at a press conference this morning. The UCLA head coach for the past two seasons will assume his duties as head basketball coach and athletic director at UAB on September 1, with sights set on a basketball team for the 1978-79 season.

“You have to walk before you can run,” Coach Bartow said, “but I feel we should be able to run fairly quickly. We should be able to develop an attractive schedule and within a year or two or three we hope to have a lot of people exicted about our intercollegiate program.”

The former Memphis State coach who coached a year at Illinois before going to UCLA to replace John Wooden was introduced by UAB president S. Richardson Hill. Also seated at the head table were Ebney Camp of the UAB Board of Trustees, Dr. Joseph Volker, Chancellor of the University of Alabama systems, and Dr. Jerry Young, UAB Vice-president for finance who was instrumental in bringing Coach Bartow to Birmingham.

“The rumor that Ara Parseghian is coming to UAB as football coach is untrue,” Dr. Hill told members of the media who had gathered to hear the official announcement of what everyone had known for several days. But the man he did introduce is just about as big in his sport as Parseghian was in football.

“We wanted the best individual in the United States to head our program,” Dr. Hill said. “This is a great day for the University system, for the University of Alabama-Birmingham, for the city and the state.

“Birmingham has long needed big-time college athletics.” Hill added. “Going by what has been shown in the state of North Carolina, NC-Charlotte has kindled a new interest in basketball in that state. We believe basketball at UAB will do the same at Alabama and Auburn, as well as other placed in the state.”

Bartow said he first started talking with UAB representatives in terms of suggesting people to head the program, but then felt the challenges of starting the new program would prove exciting. That, plus the prospect of moving back to the Southeast, he said, helped him make the decision to accept the UAB post.

“Four of the happiest years of my life were spent at Memphis, Tenn., (as coach of Memphis State),” Coach Bartow said. “I just thought of my family and I would enjoy living in a city like this.”

Some supporters of UCLA had become disenchanted with Bartow, however, and he had suffered criticism in the media in Los Angeles. “I told a friend of mine from Los Angeles last night that if I had gone 64-0 and won two national championships I probably wouldn’t have considered moving. But really, in the final analysis, that didn’t have all that much to do with it.”

Dr. Young said the school felt it would take a budget of $300,000 to get the program going, and Coach Bartow said the program should be self-supporting.

“We have 13,000 students, 8,000 employees, and in a city this size, there should be no problem in making the program balance the books at the end of the season. There will also be friends of the school who will help.”

But the big problems right now are players, and a schedule. “We hope to sign eight or nine players – probably four or five from junior colleges – next spring, and pick up two or three from the campus.” Coach Bartow said. “We’ll play a schedule by the 1978-79 season.”

As for scheduling, Coach Bartow said he hopes to play the best people available, but will “never call C.M. (Newton of Alabama)” for a game.

“If C.M. ever feels it will be beneficial to his program, then he’ll say something.
The schedule is a most interesting challenge,” he added. “With the help of the student body president, booster groups and other people we can play a lot of people. We would like to play people like NC-Charlotte, which was in the top four (in the NCAA tournament) this year, any of the Metro 7 conference teams, and any other major school.”

Bartow said that because of UCLA scheduling structure of playing as many as 20 home games a season and other games set up for television purposes, he feels it is “highly unlikely” that UAB and UCLA would ever get together.

Memphis State was in the Metro 7 during Bartow’s time there, but he has not yet talked to UAB officials about the possibility of seeking a conference affiliation.

Aside from schedule and players, the other major hurdle is a staff. First comes a pair of full-time assistants, then coaches to start establishing athletic teams in other sports, including golf, tennis, swimming, baseball and track, for men and women. “I have in mind six or eight coaches who have established themselves in college coaching,” he said. “I think it is very important that we have collegiate people who have experience in recruiting.”

Bartow said he hopes to have his staff pretty well set by the time he takes over Sept. 1.

One media representative among the sizeable gathering from throughout the state asked about reaction in Los Angeles. “I haven’t been in Los Angeles a great deal lately,” Bartow said, “but I understand that some people feel I need psychiatric help.”

Bartow has a career record of 310-153 in 16 seasons of coaching at five colleges. His career includes carrying Valparaiso to the NCAA College Division tournament, plus talking Memphis State to the NCAA championship game before losing to UCLA. Memphis State also played in the National Invitational Tournament under Bartow.

He began his coaching career at the high school level in Missouri, has also coached non-collegiate teams that have competed in Europe, the Far East, the Caribbean and Central and South America. In 1972, he coached the Peurto Rican national team to fifth place in the Munich Olympics.

Under his leadership, the US All-Stars won eight straight games during a 1973 tour of China, and in 1974 he coached the US team to a 6-1 record and a second place finish in the World Games in Puerto Rico.

Bartow and his wife Ruth have three children, 16 year old Murray, 21 year old Mark and 8 year old Beth.

Thanks for posting. Forgot about the Ara mention.
06-14-2017 07:48 AM
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Memphis Blazer Offline
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Post: #4
RE: June 14, 1977
I thought it was a nice subtle dig at Bama by Dr. Hill . In 1977, Notre Dame and Alabama were bitter rivals. I believe that Notre Dame had just leapfrogged Bama in the final polls to win the National Championship. Hill is comparing Bartow to Paraseghian as the top of the field when there was another football legend down the road in Tuscaloosa.
06-14-2017 08:21 AM
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BlzrDawg Offline
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Post: #5
RE: June 14, 1977
Thanks for your usual great historical input on UAB athletics! I can only imagine how exciting a time that must have been for the UAB family and Birmingham as well.
06-14-2017 01:48 PM
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BAMANBLAZERFAN Offline
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Post: #6
RE: June 14, 1977
UAB in 2017 still has the conference affiliation that Gene Bartow got for us during his tenure. With the reinstatement of the football program, we have managed to hold on to that connection and have begun to dream of building on it from here. With the continuance of the increased financial support of the recent time and with the new (rather than renovated) facilities coming on line, we can hope to rise in stature among D1 / FBS universities in the near future.

Gene Bartow gave the UAB sports programs the same kind of starting push that the UAB track coach gave the US Bobsled team toward a gold medal in the Winter Olympics in Japan.
06-14-2017 03:43 PM
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linus Offline
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Post: #7
RE: June 14, 1977
As a fresh Montevallo graduate, June 14, 1977 was the day I became a UAB fan. I had been a huge fan of Coach Bartow, first at Memphis State, and then at UCLA. I figured if UAB was good enough for Coach, it was good enough for me. 40 years on its a good choice
06-15-2017 09:54 AM
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