ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The hockey and gymnastics programs at the University of Alaska Anchorage have asked for a fundraising deadline extension to save their programs from elimination.
The University of Alaska Board of Regents voted in September to eliminate three sports, including alpine skiing, hockey and gymnastics because of budget cuts. The cuts would have saved $2.5 million a year from the athletic budget, or more than $9 million in the 2019 academic year, officials said.
The board also said it would consider reinstating any program that could raise two years of operating costs before its next meeting on Feb. 25.
The extension would push the deadline for hockey to Aug. 30. It would also extend the deadline for gymnastics to June 30 to raise the first year of operating costs and June 30, 2022 for the second year.
The hockey program has so far raised $1.8 million of the $3 million needed in pledges and donations, while the gymnastics interim head coach Marie-Sophie Boggasch said her program has raised $380,000 of the $888,000 needed.
The board voted last month to reinstate the alpine ski team after the program reached its fundraising goal of $628,000 in December. The University of Alaska Foundation certified the donations before the vote.
“Through collaborative efforts between the UAA administration and Save Seawolf Hockey, we have arrived at a solution for reinstatement of Seawolf hockey that honors the community support already demonstrated, and will allow fundraising efforts to continue,” Save Seawolf Hockey volunteer Heidi Embley said on Friday.
The university’s Interim President Pat Pitney and Interim Chancellor Bruce Schultz will lead the discussion on the fundraising deadline extension request and to reinstate the programs provided they raise enough money.
“Among all of the challenging choices that have been made because of the $34 million cut to UAA’s budget, we fully acknowledge that these are some of the most difficult decisions,” Schultz said in a joint statement with Director of Athletics Greg Myford last week. “Community support is essential in moving forward with sustainability for all athletic programs. We are very impressed and grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in Alaska and beyond for these programs that have been put to the test.”