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For coaches of endangered UAA sports, pursuit of recruits has become a tricky enterprise

  • Author: Doyle Woody
  • Updated: October 16, 2016
  • Published October 15, 2016

UAA hockey head coach Matt Thomas goes over a play with his team during practice at the Wells Fargo Sports Complex. Thomas, whose team is in danger of being lost to budget cuts, said he is scouting players but hasn’t signed any yet. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

With uncertainty surrounding UAA athletics – the elimination of some sports remains a possibility and budget cuts are a certainty – Seawolves gymnastics coach Paul Stoklos said he has suspended recruiting.

Stoklos said he lost a top recruit because UAA gymnastics is one of several sports particularly at risk, along with hockey and skiing. He said he understood why the recruit took a pass.

"I didn't blame her because she heard what was going on here,'' Stoklos said.

Stoklos said it would jeopardize a recruit's future if the recruit committed to UAA, the gymnastics program was scrapped and the recruit's other college offers disappeared in the interim.

"I couldn't in good conscience do that,'' Stoklos said.

UAA Athletic Director Keith Hackett said Seawolves coaches can still recruit, though he wants them to run any scholarship offers past him before a recruit is officially offered aid.

"I don't want them to sit on their hands,'' Hackett said. "We're still fully engaged.''

Hockey coach Matt Thomas said he and his staff are actively recruiting and have attended several junior hockey showcases this fall. The team is in fairly decent shape on the recruiting front – the Seawolves lose only five seniors after this season and already have commitments from three players for the 2017-18 season. One recruit has decommitted, Thomas said.

The early signing period of recruits to a National Letter of Intent is Nov. 9-16, and Thomas hopes a University of Alaska Board of Regents meeting scheduled within that period clarifies the hockey program's future.

"We're hoping by the NLI signing period we'll be able to sign kids,'' Thomas said. "That's our goal. We are operating as we regularly would.''

Ski coach Sparky Anderson said UAA's situation hasn't yet greatly impacted his recruiting because the ski team generally does not sign recruits during the early signing period in November.

Ski coach Sparky Anderson confers with alpine skier Charley Field as she works out in the weight training facility at the Alaska Airlines Center. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

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