ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Alabama Huntsville suspends men’s hockey program for 2021-22

Alabama Huntsville is suspending operations for its men’s hockey program in 2021-22 due to a lack of a conference affiliation, the school announced Wednesday.

031021.S.BP.BSUMHKY Brendan Harris goal.jpg
Bemidji State senior Brendan Harris (21) scores in the third period against Alabama Huntsville on Saturday, March 6, 2021 at the Sanford Center. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
We are part of The Trust Project.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The University of Alabama in Huntsville is suspending operations for its men’s hockey program in 2021-22 due to a lack of a conference affiliation, the school announced Wednesday.

The UAH hockey program was briefly discontinued by the university in May 2020 before being restored for the 2020-21 season by a fundraising effort that generated $750,000 in private donations in less than a week. The school then announced in November that $17 million had been committed to fund the program over 10 years thanks to the work of an alumni group headed by former players Taso Sofikitis and Sheldon Wolitski.

However, that was contingent on the Chargers’ ability to find a new conference to call home.

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association men’s league is breaking up due to seven schools departing to form the new Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

Alabama Huntsville had submitted proposals to join the CCHA and the Atlantic Hockey Association. The CCHA did not accept the school’s proposal and the AHA has not yet formally responded to UAH’s proposal.

ADVERTISEMENT

The timing of Wednesday’s announcement was made to give players the opportunity to transfer and play elsewhere in time for the 2021-22 season, the university said in a statement. UAH will honor the scholarships of any players who wish to stay at the school.

Alabama Huntsville is leaving open the possibility the program could return in the future.

“Although the suspension means that the 2021-2022 season will not occur, I want to be very clear that this is not the end of UAH Hockey and, in fact, could be an opportunity for a new beginning. Taso and I have worked diligently with UAH administration, including (UAH President Darren Dawson), to develop a plan outlining UAH's effort to secure conference membership,” said Wolitski in a statement. “If we achieve entry into a new conference, our multi-year, sustainable funding model will serve as the foundation of a reinvigorated UAH hockey program.”

Related Topics: HOCKEY
Austin Monteith is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of Bloomington, Ill., he is a 2015 graduate of Butler University. Follow him on Twitter at @amonteith92. Contact the Pioneer sports department at sports@bemidjipioneer.com.
What to read next
If you’ve been around Bemidji Speedway over the years, one name you’ll likely recognize is Caspers.
On May 7, 1932, the Bemidji Daily Pioneer dedicated Page 2 of the newspaper for an advertisement of an upcoming Land O’Lakes League game between Bemidji and Blackduck. Local downtown businesses got behind the excitement of Opening Day, offering a dozen goods and services to whoever seized their enticing prizes.
Proceeds from the fundraiser are donated to the Bemidji Lumberjack Foundation. Since the Lumberjack Scramble’s inception in 1995, the event has raised nearly $1 million.
The Bemidji Special Olympics softball team is set to scrimmage members of the Bemidji Church Softball League at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, at the BSU softball field.