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UAF ensures no sports will be cut, as UAA eliminates four programs

Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 7:17 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -

On Wednesday, the University of Alaska Anchorage announced the “reconfiguration” of their athletic department, cutting four sports “in order to preserve the program’s long-term viability.”

The discontinuation of men’s hockey, men’s and women’s skiing and women’s gymnastics will go into effect for the 2021-22 academic year, meaning these sports will compete for one more year.

With the news surrounding UAA, it immediately proposed questions regarding University of Alaska Fairbanks athletics, which Chancellor Dan White addressed.

“[I am] just making sure that everyone knows that the UAA announcement is about Seawolf athletics, it is not an announcement about UAF athletics,” said White in a press conference Wednesday. “UAF has 10 teams and we intend to continue with the 10 teams that we have. I just want to reassure the UAF community, everywhere, in the state and in the nation, that we are planning to continue with our 10 sports.”

In a University of Alaska Board of Regents’ meeting on September 10 and 11, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen will seek approval for the proposed cuts, which is estimated to save the university about $2.5 million per year.

While UAF and UAA athletics are separate, they still both operate under the University of Alaska System. Chancellor White says everything is always on the table when considering budget cuts, but UAF’s situation differs from UAA’s because of the funding they receive beyond the State’s provided budget.

“I think what is an important fact about UAF athletics is that they really focus on fundraising and generating revenue,” added White. “We have over 1,000 season ticket holders for hockey, we have a community that is supporting athletics and we are really focused on, as Keith [Champagne] said, building a modern athletic program and building a program that is sustainable in the long run. I think people can have confidence that as athletics has, and continues to build their own revenues and financial support, it continues to build a long-term, sustainable program for our current students and our future students.”

On Tuesday, UAF announced the newly created position of development officer for intercollegiate athletics, filled by Judy Dellinger, because “a focused effort on diversifying revenue for intercollegiate athletics is a priority for UAF and the UA System leadership, with Dellinger’s position playing a crucial role in future fundraising strategic plans,” the press release stated.

“If you’re going to survive these days as a modern athletic program, something we knew prior to the budget cuts and something we knew prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was that you had to have a mechanism and a model for generating friendships, support, relationships, corporate relationships and sponsorship,” said UAF Vice Chancellor Keith Champagne. “I just think it is part of the reality we are dealing with. When one source of revenue dries up, that is State support, then you look to your friends, your donors, your supporters, your alumni base, to say ‘How do we do that?’”

UAA Director of Athletics, Greg Myford, told KTUU, “This is not an outcome that any of us would choose if not confronted with the reality of our fiscal situation.”

This is a developing story. Continue to visit webcenterfairbanks.com for more stories about how this will affect UAF Athletics.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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