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UAA to eliminate four sports after 2020-21, including hockey

The Univ. of Alaska Anchorage logo at the Alaska Airlines Center
The Univ. of Alaska Anchorage logo at the Alaska Airlines Center(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 1:50 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTVF) - The University of Alaska Anchorage announced today it will reconfigure UAA Athletics in order to preserve the program’s long-term viability. Reductions in state funding have shifted the university’s fiscal situation.

In light of declining budgets, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen and Director of Athletics Greg Myford made the difficult decision to eliminate four programs from the UAA sports roster: men's hockey, women's gymnastics, men's skiing and women's skiing. The changes will go into effect for the 2021-22 season and are expected to save approximately $2.5 million per year. Sandeen will seek University of Alaska Board of Regents' approval for the proposed reconfiguration during the Sept. 10-11, 2020, meeting.

One of the implications of this being that after the 2020-21 season the Governor’s Cup could potentially not exist in its current form for men’s hockey.

"The decision to cut any UAA program, academic or athletic, is devastating. Since fiscal year 2014, state funding for UAA declined by $34 million, forcing leadership to make difficult decisions about which programs and services the university can sustain long term," Sandeen said. "That includes our sports programs. My heart goes out to our student-athletes and coaching staffs affected by this situation. This comes at a difficult time as they are already facing much uncertainty surrounding this year's season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud of the incredible resilience they have shown."

The university's decision to discontinue these sports follows on the heels of the Board of Regents' direction last fall to consolidate academic programs and services to meet budget reductions. In August 2019, University of Alaska leadership came to an agreement with Gov. Dunleavy on a $70 million reduction in state funds to the university system over the three-year period of fiscal years '20, '21 and '22.

Today's athletics announcement comes more than a full year in advance of these changes going into effect to allow impacted students, coaching staffs and their families time to plan for the future. UAA Athletics will assist student-athletes with scholarship information, academic advising, counseling options and navigating the transfer process.

"This is not an outcome that any of us would choose if not confronted with the reality of our fiscal situation," Myford said. "Our student-athletes are continually recognized for the strength of their academic performance and the contributions they have made to this community through their many hours of volunteer work. Their tenacity is evident in athletic competition. They are winners. We are committed to doing all we can to help them make informed decisions about their best path forward."

Between Aug. 19 and Sept. 9, the university community and public will have the opportunity to comment on the UAA Athletics decision during a virtual town hall meeting on Aug. 26 and Board of Regents public testimony on Aug. 31. Information about both events is available at uaa.alaska.edu/calendars/public. Feedback may also be sent to uaa_feedback@alaska.edu.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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