Alabama Huntsville got lost in the NCAA conference reshuffle, and as a result cried uncle. Guess they had no desire to operate as an independent again. The virus situation and all the long travel they would have had probably had a hand in the decision as well.
>>After a comprehensive review of UAH's athletic offerings and the associated long-term budget implications, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue the men's hockey, men's tennis, and women's tennis programs. The student-athletes associated with these programs have been outstanding representatives of the University in the classroom and on the field. We are making this decision now to allow our student-athletes in hockey, men's and women's tennis programs to have the opportunity to play at another institution if they choose to do so. Student-athletes who would like to join another institution's roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. For student-athletes associated with these three programs who wish to complete their education at UAH, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of the students' academic careers. <<
Unsurprising, but still disheartening. Between poor performance, the conference alignment situation that’s ending/putting out of misery the WCHA, and COVID, the betting odds would have been pretty much even up that UAH would be a casualty.
EDIT: For what it’s worth this also isn’t the only time Charger hockey has been on the chopping block, in 2011 there was a brief period where the team was to be discontinued at the end of the season, lasting two months before that decision was reversed. It’s unclear at this moment whether local support can be found again to save the teams bacon.
Alabama-Huntsville was a college hockey team that was certainly off the beaten path, playing below the Mason-Dixon Line. Last season they had a record of 2-26-6, playing in the WCHA, the bottom rated western conference in Division 1 college hockey. They haven't had a winning record since the 2005-06 season. Still, I find it sad whenever a school has to fold a team for whatever the reason.
They seemed to have a core of passionate fans but I can’t imagine it was an easy sell to recruit. Huntsville isn’t exactly Boston or Minneapolisor some other hockey hotbed. On top of that the travel was pretty brutal.
>>Sheldon Wolitski, who played on the Chargers’ Division II national championship team in 1996, told AL.com there are a couple of major donors ready to support the program. Wolitski and Taso Sofikitis, a UAH teammate, have promised to give $300,000 toward meeting that goal. A GoFundMe account opened Monday night has raised an additional $196,505 so far. No public statement has been made by UAH yet. The information has all been relayed by Wolitski and Sofikitis, who were able to get a conference call with UAH President Darren Dawson after the decision was made.
According to the information given to AL.com, Smith said Dawson asked for private donations equal to 50% of a season’s expenses. Ice hockey is more expensive to operate than tennis, so the tennis teams were given a fundraising goal of $150,000 by June 5. So far, a GoFundMe account for the tennis program has raised $9,690.<<