Alaska-Anchorage chancellor Bruce Schultz and UAA athletic director Greg Myford have recommended, in a memo, to the UAA Board of Regents that the university reinstate men’s hockey if supporters can raise $3 million by August 30.
The university cut men’s hockey last year amidst a $34 million cut in spending. However, the Board of Regents said this past fall that it would consider reinstating the hockey program if supporters could fundraise $3 million by the end of this month. The $3 million would cover the operating expenses for a period of two years.
According to the memo co-authored by Schultz and Myford, the hockey team has raised $1,077,023 in cash to date, with another $486,151 in pledges. They are asking for consideration of the progress made by the supporters, and that the UAA Board of Regents extend the fundraising deadline to August 30. If reinstated, the memo said that the Seawolves would re-establish a program for the 2022-23 season.
The memo said that the university plans on using the 2021-22 season as a planning year.
“The time is necessary for exploring options and garnering commitments to return in fall 2022 within a more vibrant, self-sustaining and community-supported model,” it reads. “The pause year provides more opportunity to recruit an entirely new team of athletes, which is necessary given only one athlete is expected to remain on the team after this semester due to transfers and graduations. Additionally, the pause year means UAA Athletics can better address the inadequacies of the current hockey venue, and develop an independent, non-league competition schedule if the WCHA ceases operations at the conclusion of the season.”
Of course, the WCHA is ceasing operations at the end of this season.
Between the cash already raised and the pledges in place, UAA would need to fundraise an additional $1,438,826 to save the program over the next six months.
Overall, the university said that it’s looking to reduce the reliance on UAA general funds that the program would need to sustain itself.
McMahon: This is good news, but obviously there are still some significant hurdles to clear for UAA to reinstate the program. First and foremost, they need to raise an additional $1.5 million in the next six months. They’re about halfway to their fundraising goal, but still need the other half.
Secondly, they need the UAA Board of Regents to go along with the recomendations from Schultz and Myford. It’s possible that the Board of Regents declines the extension — they had already set the fundraising goal of February — and this all comes to an end quickly.
Hopefully, that’s not the case.
Lastly, UAA will have to figure out how it will operate in a landscape that includes them as an independent program. The new CCHA will not be an option, at least not right away, and I don’t forsee any other existing conference taking on the Alaska schools.