Anchorage — The UAA Hockey Alumni Association, which counts more than 300 former Seawolves among its membership and says it has raised more than $100,000 for the school's athletic department, on Tuesday issued a vote of no-confidence in athletic director Steve Cobb.
The resolution was adopted Sunday night during an emergency meeting held in the wake of the Alaska State Hockey Association's vote of no-confidence, which was emailed to university and state officials on Saturday.
"I wouldn't have any comment on that at all," Cobb said Tuesday. "We're busy trying to finish the (school year), having our Athlete of the Year banquet and hiring a new coach."
The resolutions come at a time when UAA is in the process of hiring a new hockey coach. The second of four finalists is in town Wednesday for interviews and meetings with the alumni and the general public; the first candidate was here Monday, and the others are scheduled to visit next week.
Mark Filipenko, president of the alumni association, said the group of former UAA hockey players feels alienated.
"This didn't happen overnight," he said. "It's something that's been ongoing for many years."
Like the state hockey association, the alumni association's goal is a change in leadership. The resolutions themselves wield no power other than perhaps the power to influence opinion.
UAA chancellor Tom Case, who is among the recipients of the resolutions, could not be reached late Tuesday afternoon.
Since the alumni group it was formed a few years ago, the alumni group has raised more than $100,000 for UAA hockey and the athletic program, including $55,000 for an endowment fund, Filipenko said.
Future contributions could go away, he said.
"Last year we had a vote to pull all support from the program, and we did not because of some people that asked us to stay around, that there will be changes if the program doesn't have a good year," Filipenko said. "There was a coaching change, correct. However, not a lot's changed.
"... I would say, and I hate to say it, but from the group's standpoint, the support will be lost. Individual people may still support it. "
The alumni's resolution says Cobb "shunned" alumni and the hockey community. Filipenko said the group has offered ideas for beefing up attendance at Sullivan Arena -- things like getting big corporations to sponsor specific nights at the arena, or expanding the beer section -- but he said the university never addressed its ideas.
Things reached a tipping point, Filipenko said, when UAA went looking for a new hockey coach. Both resolutions criticize Cobb for not involving alumni or anyone from the hockey community in the search for a coach to replace Dave Shyiak, who was fired last month after going 80-177-33 in eight seasons.
Cobb has said the university requires search-committee members to be school employees.
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
The Alumni have been supporting UAA hockey and UAA athletics for a long time, and are the most active and most involved of any of the alumni groups at UAA. We have helped raise over $100,000 for the hockey program and athletics in general and have directed over $55,000 to the Legacy fund. We feel we deserve the respect that should come along with the type of support we have given over the years. Dr. Cobb has pushed us away and continued to alienate the alumni as the years have passed. We have tried to remain supportive, but in light of recent occurrences such as the process for hiring the new coach, we feel it is time to step forward and make a statement regarding how the alumni feel about Dr. Cobb and his performance.
In light of the Alaska State Hockey Associations resolution we had an emergency meeting Sunday night. The Hockey Alumni unanimously voted no confidence for the Athletic Director. Please find the attached resolution for your review. We support the University and its transformation into a first class University that every Alaskan can be proud of, however, it is impossible to support the leader of the Athletic Department who has let the hockey program, the Kendall Classic and the Great Alaska Shootout degenerate to where they are today.
UAA Hockey Alumni President