ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Board of Regents has reinstated the university alpine ski team after the program raised enough money to save itself from elimination.
“It’s official! We’re back!” head coach Sparky Anderson messaged the team on Friday.
The board unanimously voted to reinstate the program after the team reached its fundraising goal of $628,000 in December. The University of Alaska Foundation certified the donations before the vote.
The board previously 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, university officials said.
The board also said it would consider reinstatement for any program that could raise two years of operating costs before the next meeting in February.
It is unclear if the hockey or gymnastics programs reached their goals.
University of Alaska Anchorage Interim Chancellor Bruce Schultz moved up the ski team’s reinstatement after they reached their goal so the team could focus on its ongoing season.
“It’s amazing,” Anderson said. “I’m speechless right now. It’s been so much pressure and work and worry and everything, and just knowing that this is now in the rearview mirror, it’s nice to be able to think about moving forward.”
The season started last week in Colorado. Anderson believes his team has a chance at an NCAA national championship. The program has previously produced three NCAA national championships, 43 NCAA All-Americans and four Olympians.
“We are very humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in Alaska and beyond,” Schultz said. “Community support is essential in moving forward with greater sustainability for all athletic programs.”