Board of Regents reinstates Alpine skiing

by Matt Jardin  |   

Alpine skier Michael Soetaert during the CU Invite in January 2020
Alpine skier Michael Soetaert during the CU Invite in January 2020. (Photo by Scott Arnold)

Last August, UAA leadership made the difficult decision to eliminate men’s hockey, women’s gymnastics and men’s and women’s skiing from the Seawolf Athletics roster. With UAA’s state funding reduced by $34 million since fiscal year ’14, leadership deemed it necessary to restructure with fewer athletic programs in order to create a more sustainable future.

In response, Chancellor Sandeen sought public feedback after UAA announced the decision to discontinue these sports. Afterward, she recommended an alternate proposal to the UA Board of Regents during the Sept. 10, 2020 meeting that allowed for reinstatement if the programs could raise two years of operating expenses through private donations by February 2021. The alternate proposal also retained Nordic (cross-country) skiing at UAA, leaving only Alpine (downhill) skiing affected. The board voted to accept the alternate proposal.

Since then, Alpine skiing supporters have indeed raised two years of operating expenses, and the board voted to reinstate the sport during a Jan. 15 meeting. Led by Head Coach Sparky Anderson, the total amount raised to date is $628,000, comprising $455,803 in cash gifts and $172,197 in pledged gifts.

“We are very humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in Alaska and beyond,” said UAA Interim Chancellor Bruce Schultz. “Community support is essential in moving forward with sustainability for all athletic programs. We are proud of Seawolf Athletics and believe that all teams provide a legacy of excellence and a source of pride. We are hopeful this success will be followed by the UAA Hockey and Gymnastics teams.”

“The commitment and effort of our UAA ski program and the ski community here in Anchorage as well as across the country — was rewarded today, and we all benefit,” said UAA Director of Athletics Greg Myford. “Most importantly, the UAA students who make up the Skiwolves will continue wearing the green and gold while earning meaningful degrees.”

Alpine skiing’s reinstatement will permit Seawolf Athletics to provide current student-athletes stability, encouraging these stellar performers to remain at UAA. Immediate reinstatement also allows coaches to actively recruit high-caliber student-athletes within the extremely competitive recruitment window.

By continuing to offer Alpine and Nordic skiing, UAA remains a contender to win an NCAA team national championship and host NCAA championship events. Hosting NCAA championships is only available to institutions that offer both Alpine and Nordic programs and results in increased visibility and visitation for the university and the community.

Read the UAA Athletics release.

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