BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Giving back to the community has always been an off-the-floor focus for the UAB men's basketball program. The latest endeavor, however, mixes on-the-floor achievement with off-the-floor contribution.
UAB head coach Robert Ehsan's program recently completed its block cancer initiative that was designed to raise money and awareness for cancer research based on the amount of blocked shots the Blazers tallied during the 2016-17 season.
The Blazers finished the 2016-17 season ranked 27th in the NCAA with 4.9 blocks per game to mark the third consecutive year in which UAB has finished the season in the top 30 nationally. UAB finished the 2015-16 campaign second in the nation with 6.1 rejections per game and ended the 2014-15 season 18th in the country with 5.1 per game.
This season, Ehsan pledged $10 for every blocked shot during the entire season, while each of the Blazer players and other members of the coaching staff are donating $1 for every rejection during Conference USA play.
UAB ended this season with 161 total blocks and 78 during league play, raising $3,014 to be donated to the Gene Bartow Memorial Fund. The Bartow Fund recognizes the late UAB Men’s Basketball Coach and Athletics Director Gene Bartow for his decades of commitment to UAB and intercollegiate sports. Bartow, who retired from collegiate coaching in 1996, underwent treatment at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center for stomach cancer.
Widely known as the `Father of UAB Athletics,' Bartow established the men's basketball program at UAB in 1978 and would go on to coach 18 seasons in Birmingham. He finished his career in 1996 after winning 365 games and leading UAB to nine NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 1981 Sweet 16 and the 1982 Elite Eight.
“Our core values are what define our program, and having the opportunity to raise money and awareness for cancer research is something we feel passionate about,” Ehsan said. “It’s also incredibly special to be able to donate to our world class UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and towards a memorial fund that bears the name of someone so dear to everyone at UAB.”
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center nears its 45th year of continuous funding from the National Cancer Institute and remains one of the premier National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in the United States.
The UAB faithful can also help out in raising money for the Gene Bartow Fund. Donations can be made by a pre-determined amount or fans can match the donation to the number of blocks tallied by the team. Click here to make a donation to the Gene Bartow Fund.