Alaska-Anchorage announced on Friday that it had made the decision to cancel all winter sports, including hockey. This comes in the wake of the Ivy League canceling winter sports on Thursday and RIT’s decision to not move forward with men’s hockey in 2020-21 from earlier this week.
But this decision stings just a little bit more. This could be the end for UAA hockey. There’s a movement of people trying to save the program from being cut, as was announced earlier this year, but if they are unsuccessful (and hopes don’t seem to be very high), then this is the end for UAA hockey.
"I weighed many factors and relied upon the guidance of public health officials to make the very difficult decision that our indoor winter sports teams would not compete this season," said UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen. "My first priority is the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff. I know this is a disappointment. Our student-athletes have continued to work hard each day in the midst of much uncertainty due to the ongoing pandemic. I am proud of the resilience they have shown."
I was critical of RIT’s decision, and I stand by that. RIT’s administration simply made a decision to not try. That’s unacceptable. Anchorage has different challenges that RIT doesn’t have, namely the travel. But UAA also can’t afford the testing protocols (I’m guessing), if they are in the midst of massive budget cuts that include cutting athletic programs.
Just because this decision is a little more understandable, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt those involved.
All indications are that head coach Matt Curley is a damn good coach. Both Alaska coaches have done admirable work, considering the cloud of mystery that has surrounded the program in recent years. Another NCAA program would be wise to pick him up as an associate head coach.
The players, of course, are the ones hit the hardest. With the Ivy League schools, RIT and now Anchorage all not playing this year (and more programs potentially to follow), the transfer portal will be inundated with players. There are not enough spots for them all. For some players, this could mean the end of their time as a Division I college hockey player.