UAB Athletics began in 1977 with the hiring of Gene Bartow as athletic director and men's basketball coach. Over the next 22 years, Coach Bartow oversaw the expansion of UAB athletics as it grew to 17 intercollegiate teams competing at the nation's highest level.
Almost instantly, UAB Basketball was a huge success, exploding onto the national scene with a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in the program's fourth season. The Blazer's became a basketball powerhouse in the 1980's reaching the NCAA Tournament in seven consecutive years.
Coach Bartow's dream of seeing UAB compete in all phases of college athletics, became a reality when the Blazers began a football program in 1989. UAB Football joined Conference USA in 1999, finishing second in the conference in just their first year. The young team won a momentous game in 2000, going on the road to beat SEC power LSU in Baton Rouge.