UAA Athletics

As clock ticks down, UAA hockey team nears program-saving fundraising goal

The biggest goal in program history is within reach for the UAA hockey team.

Tuesday is the deadline for raising $3 million to save the team, which the school offered up for elimination nearly a year ago to save money. Another $150,000 will put the team back on ice.

As of Saturday, the campaign to save the Seawolves had hit $2.85 million, according to its website, “and we are even closer than that,” said Kathie Bethard, chairwoman of Save Seawolf Hockey.

More than $1.5 million of the money is in cash, Bethard said, which means the rest can come in the form of cash or pledges. The program had to raise two years’ worth of operating expenses in order to be spared, half of it in cash.

If the $3 million goal is met, the Seawolves would return to play in the 2022-23 season. They didn’t play last season because of the pandemic and they are taking this season off to regroup.

The Seawolves don’t have a head coach or any players — Matt Curley departed earlier this summer after three difficult seasons as head coach, and players either transferred, graduated or otherwise moved on during the uncertainty of the last year.

[With deadline 3 weeks away and a coach search in progress, UAA hockey supporters think they’ll meet fundraising goal]

The school is looking for a new coach, who will get a year to build a team from scratch while also confronting another issue: neither UAA nor the University of Alaska Fairbanks have a conference affiliation any more.

Hockey was one of three programs put on the chopping block a year ago by former UAA chancellor Cathy Sandeen, who has since moved to another university. The Board of Regents gave the programs — hockey, gymnastics and alpine skiing — a chance at reinstatement provided they could meet certain fundraising goals.

The gymnastics and alpine ski teams met their goals, and now it looks like the hockey team might too.

“The hockey community really stepped up to support us,” Bethard said, “and believed in our efforts.”

If the fundraising goal is met, the regents are expected to address the program’s reinstatement at a September meeting.

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