The University of Alaska Board of Regents announced Thursday it had passed two motions focused on Alaska Anchorage hockey and gymnastics.
The motions extended the fundraising deadlines for the two sports, allowing for automatic reinstatement if fundraising targets are met.
“Today’s board of regents decision honors the work done by our teams, student-athletes and supporters from across Alaska,” UAA director of athletics Greg Myford said in a statement. “They have shown the significance and relevance that our programs have. There is still work to be done in terms of getting to the fundraising goals, but the additional time granted today provides great hope behind the existing momentum. My thanks to the board, President (Pat) Pitney and Chancellor (Bruce) Schultz for today’s outcome.”
The board voted in September 2020 to discontinue hockey, gymnastics and Alpine skiing unless the teams could raise two years of private funding to cover operating expenses by Feb. 15.
Estimated savings to restructure UAA Athletics by eliminating these sports is more than $2 million and is part of an effort to close the gap on UAA’s $7.2 million budget reduction for fiscal year ’22.
The regents reinstated Alpine skiing at their January meeting in response to supporters successfully raising two years of operating expenses. UAA leadership, working in concert with Pitney, requested the extensions for hockey and gymnastics in response to “the tireless fundraising efforts of student-athletes, coaches and alumni, all bolstered by passionate boosters and community supporters, both statewide and nationwide, who have mobilized to raise funds,” according to a press release.
“The outpouring of support for the gymnastics and hockey teams has inspired hope in the possibility these athletic programs may yet survive and thrive at UAA, provided fundraising goals are met.”
For gymnastics, that means raising $444,000 by June 30, 2021 to cover the 2021-22 athletic season. Reinstatement beyond 2021-2022 means supporters must raise an additional year of operating expenses by June 30, 2022.
Hockey will pause for a year to allow for planning, recruitment, scheduling and — most importantly — a move toward a self-sustaining and community-supported model. Supporters must raise $3 million in funds by Aug. 30, 2021, covering two years of operating expenses. To date, they have raised $1,563,183.
The fundraising success of both sports is critical in order to ensure Title IX compliance.