Business as usual for 2019-20, but Alaska, Alaska Anchorage to consolidate into single program down the road?

Alaska-Anchorage's Brett Cameron (7) and Alaska-Fairbanks' Michael Quinn (6) battle for control of the puck in the third period. Alaska-Anchorage defeated Alaska-Fairbanks 3-2 in Anchorage in the first of two games for the Governor's Cup. (Sam Wasson)
Under a new proposal, Alaska and Alaska Anchorage could become one team down the road (photo: Sam Wasson).

According to the Anchorage Daily News, the University of Alaska’s decision to pursue a single accreditation for its three universities could result in a single athletic program instead of the current two.

In a meeting Friday afternoon that included Alaska president Jim Johnsen, Alaska Anchorage athletic director Greg Myford and UAF athletic director Keith Champagne, a short-term plan was put in place with a long-term plan in the works, according to the report.

“In the short term, all programs will proceed as planned in 2019-20,” university spokesperson Robbie Graham said.

“We have received confirmation from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage that there will be no change in the status of their hockey programs for the 2019-20 season,” added WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson. “Both teams will compete in the WCHA this season. We are pleased with this decision and look forward to another exciting season from our 10 member institutions in the men’s league of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.”

The Alaska Legislature this past week passed a bill that reduced a $135 million cut to university state funding to $25 million this year.

Johnsen is drafting what the report states is a cost-saving plan to consolidate Alaska’s three state universities into one accredited university with multiple campuses that regents are expected to vote on in September.

Johnsen said that with a single accreditation, “I believe it means there would be a single athletic program.”

Seven WCHA teams announced last month their intention to form a new conference for the 2021-22 season. Neither Alaska school or Alabama Huntsville was included in the potential new conference.