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University Of Alaska Anchorage Cuts Ski Teams

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"The University of Alaska Anchorage announced today it will reconfigure UAA Athletics in order to preserve the program’s long-term viability. Significant reductions in state funding have dramatically shifted the university’s fiscal situation."
- UAA News Release

With Alaska having long winters and the reputation of lots of snow mixed with several ski or snowboarding activities, one would not think that a university would cut skiing from its athletics program. However, the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) announced this past Wednesday, August 19th, that the ski teams would be part of athletic budget cuts.

According to the news release, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen and Director of Athletics Greg Myford made the decision to eliminate four programs from the UAA sports roster. The affected programs are the men's and women's ski teams, as well as men's hockey and women's gymnastics. These changes, which would go in effect for the 2021/2022 season, are expected to save approximately $2.5 million per year.

“The decision to cut any UAA program, academic or athletic, is devastating. Since fiscal year 2014, state funding for UAA declined by $34 million, forcing leadership to make difficult decisions about which programs and services the university can sustain long term,” Sandeen said. “That includes our sports programs. My heart goes out to our student-athletes and coaching staffs affected by this situation. This comes at a difficult time as they are already facing much uncertainty surrounding this year’s season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud of the incredible resilience they have shown.”

This announcement follows the UAA Board of Regents' direction last fall to consolidate academic programs and services to meet budget reductions. UAA leadership came to an agreement with Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy on a $70 million reduction in state funds over the 2020, 2021, and 2022 fiscal years. Wednesday's athletics announcement comes more than a full year ahead of these changes going into effect to allow the impacted programs coaching staffs, students, and their families to plan for the future.

“This is not an outcome that any of us would choose if not confronted with the reality of our fiscal situation,” Myford said. “Our student-athletes are continually recognized for the strength of their academic performance and the contributions they have made to this community through their many hours of volunteer work. Their tenacity is evident in athletic competition. They are winners. We are committed to doing all we can to help them make informed decisions about their best path forward.”

Between Aug. 19 and Sept. 9, the university community and public will have the opportunity to comment on the UAA Athletics decision, including during a virtual town hall meeting on Aug. 26 and Board of Regents public testimony on Aug. 31. Feedback may also be sent to uaa_feedback@alaska.edu.

Thumbnail: UAA Entrance - Credit: Dinker022089 / CC BY-SA

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