Donations have temporarily saved the University of Alabama-Huntsville men’s hockey program.
The university announced Friday that more than $750,000 in private dollars were raised in one week, allowing Alabama-Huntsville to compete in Division I hockey during the 2020-21 season. The announcement came just one week after a statement announcing that financial challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic were forcing Alabama-Huntsville to discontinue its men’s hockey, men’s tennis and women’s tennis programs.
“These actions are the necessary result of intensive review and discussion about where we can make adjustments that protect our current financial condition with the least possible disruption to our central mission,” said the May 22 statement, which was signed by president Darren Dawson and athletic director Cade Smith.
UAH said that the resulting donations represent the largest athletic campaign contribution in school history. Hockey supporters Taso Sofikitis and Sheldon Wolitski each reportedly gave $125,000 gifts, while another $500,000 was raised from numerous donors. Dawson also committed university dollars to cover the balance for the 2020-21 season.
"We are thankful from the loyal support that has been demonstrated this week by the fans and alumni of Charger hockey," Dawson said. "We are hopeful that this support will translate into a sustainable funding model that will allow the UAH hockey program to rise again to high levels of success."
To play beyond 2020-21, the Chargers must develop a five-year philanthropic funding model and resolve their conference-related issues. The Chargers went 2-26-6 in 2019-20, including 2-20-6 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The WCHA is splitting apart, with seven teams announcing in February that they will be departing in the 2021-22 season to form the Central College Hockey Association.
"The university is fully committed to the upcoming season,” Smith said. “The university will work with the supporters of the UAH hockey program and a newly formed Hockey Advisory Board to develop a plan that will allow the Chargers to thrive in 2021-2022 season and beyond.”
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