BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — University of Alabama at Birmingham football could return as early as 2016, according to the committee put together by UAB President Ray Watts.

The committee said they are searching for a company to look into Athletics at the university. So, who will pay for the new study?

No one knows. The committee said they’re looking into all options, even asking for the university to foot the bill. Committee members reassured students that there is no conflict of interest if the university pays for the study.

The committee said they are shooting for an April 2nd deadline. That’s about three months from their first meeting. Committee Chairman Wes Smith says there’s a reason for the tight deadline.

“We want to get the work done and a decision made, but we also know there are implications for Conference USA and our ability to remain in the conference,” said Smith.

“We want to work against a timeline that gives us the best opportunity for the right answer while taking into consideration all the other factors that are important to the university,” continued Smith.

Conference USA is holding a previously scheduled winter retreat next week. UAB Interim Athletic Director Shannon Ealy says that’s when he and Watts will make their case to conference commissioners and the other university presidents. They are asking for more time to complete the new study and determine what type of department the university will have.

They also wanted students to know they aren’t here to rubber stamp any decision the university has already made. Smith said the entire committee is in agreement on their independence. They want to gather as much information as possible from those concerned to put together a proposal.

With confidence in the administration at a low level, smith believes the committee will be taken seriously.

“I can tell you that the members of this committee would not be serving and using their valuable time if we didn’t believe whatever the outcome of this process shows would not be seriously considered,” said Smith.

The committee held its first meeting last Friday. They have another one set for January 23rd. They also want to hold more community meetings to help gather information.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News