UAH suspends hockey program, 2021-2022 season will not happen

Sports

After going through a season that almost didn’t happen, UAH’s hockey program has been suspended.

The university announced Wednesday that it was suspending the program because it had not been able to secure a conference membership for the team.

UAH announced in May 2020 it was discontinuing hockey and tennis programs as cost-cutting measures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporters of the university’s hockey program were able to raise more than $500,000 last year to help fund a 2020-2021 season. UAH funded the remainder of the money needed to continue the season.

Two of the conditions UAH set for the program to continue beyond this past season were developing a five-year philanthropic funding model for the program and securing a conference membership. The university said once a membership is secured, “it plans to promptly reinstate its hockey program.”

UAH said its Hockey Advisory Board and alumni supporters worked with the Atlantic Hockey Association and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association to try and find homes in those conferences, but the CCHA declined and the AHA has yet to respond to UAH’s proposal.

If the team does get a conference invitation, it will not be eligible for conference play for at least a year, officials said.

UAH said it made the announcement Wednesday so players can have the opportunity to transfer and play somewhere else, given the uncertainty of UAH team’s future. Players who opt not to transfer will still have their current scholarships honored for the duration of their time at the school, officials said.

UAH officials and former UAH Hockey All-Americans Taso Sofikitis and Sheldon Wolitski said in a statement that their funding model will be able to sustain the program once it finds a place to play.

“Although the suspension means that the 2021-2022 season will not occur, I want to be very clear that this is not the end of UAH Hockey and, in fact, could be an opportunity for a new beginning,” said Wolitski. “Taso and I have worked diligently with UAH administration, including Dr. Dawson, to develop a plan outlining UAH’s effort to secure conference membership.

“If we achieve entry into a new conference, our multi-year, sustainable funding model will serve as the foundation of a reinvigorated UAH hockey program.”

UAH finished the 2020-2021 season with a 3-18-1 record under interim head coach Lance West, who replaced Mike Corbett. Corbett resigned in June 2020 after seven seasons with the team.

The university announced last November that it had plans to build a multipurpose facility on campus that would be home to the Charger hockey program.

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