For the second time in eight years, members of the Huntsville community stepped up and raised more than $500,000 in five days to save the men’s hockey program at Alabama-Huntsville.
Last Friday, the school announced it was cutting the program as part of wide-spreading budget cuts. One week later, the school announced the program was saved. More than $500,000 was raised in a GoFundMe campaign and two other donors (Taso Sofikitis and Sheldon Wolitski) pledged $250,000, bringing the total raised to more than $750,000. The school will pick up the remaining operating cost for next year.
UAH announced that it has also created a Hockey Advisory Board; they’re tasked with coming up with a plan for UAH’s hockey long-term survival.
“To continue beyond the current season, the Chargers must develop a 5-year philanthropic funding model and resolve the associated conference-related issues,” the school said in a statement.
“We are thankful from the loyal support that has been demonstrated this week by the fans and alumni of Charger hockey,” school president Darren Dawson said. “We are hopeful that this support will translate into a sustainable funding model that will allow the UAH hockey program to rise again to high levels of success.”
With the WCHA dissolving, UAH needs to find a new conference home. The school said that the operating budget would require $2 million annually and the school will cover $500,000, so the advisory board needs to find a way to annually raise $1.5 million.
The players who have already transferred will most likely be allowed to play with their new teams right away, despite the usual NCAA one-year wait rule. The last time Alabama-Huntsville went through this, in 2012, its No. 1 goaltender, Clarke Saunders, transferred to North Dakota. The UAH program was saved at the last minute that time, too, but Saunders still suited up right away for North Dakota.