Just last week, Alabama-Huntsville’s men’s hockey program was saved after a fundraising campaign raised more than $500,000 in five days. But on Wednesday, the Chargers lost their head coach.
Mike Corbett will announce at a team meeting this afternoon that he is resigning. An official announcement will come shortly thereafter. According to Corbett, who told local television station WHNT, assistant coach Lance West, director of hockey operations Ryan McRae, and equipment manager Damon Wheeler will remain with the team.
Two weeks ago, 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.”
So while hopes were high after the program was saved, the school still wouldn’t commit to the long-term future of the program.
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.
A handful of players already announced intentions to transfer (before the program was saved), and those players 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.
Until the official announcement comes, there’s no word on if anyone will assume the “interim” head coach tag. Lance West was formerly the head coach at Alaska Fairbanks, so he has experience running a program.