WCHA member Alabama-Huntsville discontinues hockey

Chargers were conference peer of Bowling Green.

By Nicholas Piotrowicz / The Blade
Fri, 22 May 2020 20:18:11 GMT

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BOWLING GREEN — The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, Bowling Green State University’s league for one more season, will have one fewer member.

Alabama-Huntsville announced Friday it immediately will discontinue three sports due to the coronavirus pandemic, including men’s hockey.

The program was the only NCAA Division I hockey team in the South, and the Chargers played against the Falcons in the WCHA since 2013.

The Falcons were scheduled to play in Huntsville on Nov. 13 and 14.

UAH president Darren Dawson and director of athletic Cade Smith said in a statement financial troubles related to the virus have made cuts necessary.

“The uncertainty of our future financial situation requires that we take additional steps to reduce expenses, including cutting some programs and reorganizing some units to create savings from improved efficiencies,” the statement said. “All units across the University are sacrificing for the greater good.”

The program had fielded a varsity team since 1985 and moved up to Division I in 1999.

Seven members of the WCHA, including Bowling Green, have declared their intention to leave the conference to revive the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in time for the 2021-22 season.

Huntsville, Alaska, and Alaska-Anchorage were the three remaining WCHA members who were not invited to the new CCHA.

“We are deeply saddened by today’s news that Alabama-Huntsville has eliminated its men’s ice hockey program,” WCHA president and men's commissioner Bill Robertson said in a statement. “UAH has been a valued member of the WCHA since joining the league in 2013 and, as the first Division I hockey school in the Deep South, brought the sport to a previously untapped fan base for college hockey.

“We want to wish all the best to UAH head coach Mike Corbett, his assistant coaches, support staff, and the Charger players affected by this decision and hope to see all of them at new schools in time for the 2020-21 season.”

In addition to hockey, UAH also discontinued both tennis teams.

The school said it will honor scholarships for all impacted athletes, but that it made the decision now to allow them a chance to transfer if they so choose.

“Your accomplishments will be remembered, and your legacy will endure,” the UAH statement read. “These actions are the necessary result of intensive review and discussion about where we can make adjustments that protect our current financial condition with the least possible disruption to our central mission — education, research, and service to the community.”