After a massive grassroots fundraising effort that has netted close to $900,000, hockey is back at Alabama Huntsville, the school that plays in the same conference as Alaska’s two college hockey teams.
The fundraising goal was met last week, and Wednesday the Western Collegiate Hockey Association reinstated the Chargers for the 2020-21 season.
On the same day, head coach Mike Corbett announced his resignation after seven seasons at the helm. Replacing him is former assistant coach Lance West, who spent 10 seasons in Fairbanks as a Nanooks coach until joining Corbett’s staff in 2018.
Alabama Huntsville, home of the nation’s only Division I hockey team south of the Mason-Dixon line, cut hockey for budgetary reasons May 22.
Boosters began raising funds immediately with the understanding that if they raised $750,000 in a week’s time, the program would be restored for 2020-21. According to the school, that goal was reached with the help of two former players-turned-businessmen who donated $125,000 apiece.
Fundraising has continued and is close to $900,000, the WCHA said. To survive beyond the upcoming season, the team must develop a five-year philanthropic plan to keep the program funded, the school said in a press release.
It must also resolve “associated conference-related issues.” Prior to the 2019-20 season, seven of the WCHA’s teams announced they were leaving the league to create one of their own. Left behind were UAA, UAF and Huntsville — the conference’s most geographically remote schools, and ones that often finish in the bottom half of the standings.
At this point, those three schools have not made public what they will do beyond the 2020-21 season, when they are the only teams left in the WCHA.
[Because of a high volume of comments requiring moderation, we are temporarily disabling comments on many of our articles so editors can focus on the coronavirus crisis and other coverage. We invite you to write a letter to the editor or reach out directly if you’d like to communicate with us about a particular article. Thanks.]