Alabama Huntsville dropping men’s ice hockey effective immediately, citing budget

30 Dec 16: Max McHugh (Alabama Huntsville - 7). The University of Massachusetts Minutemen play against the University of Alabama Huntsville Chargers in a semi-final matchup at the 2016 Mariucci Classic at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis, MN. (Jim Rosvold)
Alabama Huntsville players celebrate a goal during the 2016 Mariucci Classic (file photo: Jim Rosvold).

The University of Alabama in Huntsville is dropping its D-I men’s ice hockey program effective immediately.

“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,” said UAH president Darren Dawson and athletics director Cade Smith in a statement released this afternoon.

USCHO had learned of the announcement from multiple sources earlier in the day.

Budget constraints related to the COVID-19 crisis were cited for the decision.

“To our student-athletes, alumni, donors, and fans, we are sincerely grateful to everyone who has supported the men’s hockey, men’s tennis, and women’s tennis athletic programs at UAH,” Dawson and Smith wrote. “Your accomplishments will be remembered, and your legacy will endure.”

Alabama Huntsville is the first men’s D-I hockey program to be discontinued since Wayne State in 2008 and the 12th since 1973.

The Chargers found themselves in a WCHA that was to have only three teams after the 2020-21 season as seven other league members announced they were departing to form what will be called the CCHA.

Alabama Huntsville joined the WCHA starting with the 2013-14 season.

“We are deeply saddened by today’s news that Alabama Huntsville has eliminated its men’s ice hockey program,” said WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson in a statement. “UAH has been a valued member of the WCHA since joining the league in 2013 and, as the first Division I hockey school in the Deep South, brought the sport to a previously untapped fan base for college hockey.”

The program had previously been slated to be cut at the end of the 2011-12 season, with finances cited as the reason, but a fundraising program and admission to the WCHA saved the Chargers for several more seasons.

After the demise of College Hockey America in 2010, the Chargers played an independent schedule after being denied admission to the now-defunct original CCHA. Alabama Huntsville spent 11 seasons in the CHA.

Prior to moving to Division I in the 1998-99 season, Alabama enjoyed success as a Division II program, winning NCAA championships in 1996 and 1998.

Chargers head coach Mike Corbett is a member of the NCAA men’s D-I ice hockey committee with a term that had been scheduled to run through August 2022. Corbett is the fifth coach to head the program, and the longest-tenured since original coach Doug Ross.