Alaska Anchorage notified the WCHA on Friday that the Seawolves will opt out of the 2020-21 season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision from UAA was part of a larger announcement by the school that it would suspend competition for all of its indoor winter sports – men’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track and field and women’s gymnastics – for this season.
“We were saddened to learn this news today,” WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson said in a statement. “The University of Alaska Anchorage has been a long-standing and solid member of the WCHA since 1993. We know this was a carefully thought-out decision that affects the entire university.
“Our thoughts go out to chancellor Dr. Cathy Sandeen, director of athletics Greg Myford, head coach Matt Curley, the UAA coaching and support staffs, the Seawolf student-athletes and their great fans. Alaska Anchorage has had a storied program that has sent a number players into the professional ranks as well as careers off the ice.”
Under the terms of the WCHA return to competition plan unanimously approved by the league’s board of directors on Nov. 10, WCHA member schools have until Tuesday, Nov. 17 to notify the league if they intend to opt out of the WCHA for 2020-21.
“I weighed many factors and relied upon the guidance of public health officials to make the very difficult decision that our indoor winter sports teams would not compete this season,” said Sandeen. “My first priority is the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and athletics staff. I know this is a disappointment. Our student-athletes have continued to work hard each day in the midst of much uncertainty due to the ongoing pandemic. I am proud of the resilience they have shown.”
“Coronavirus has proven to be a merciless opponent with a simple game plan to spread with stealth and speed,” Myford added. “Although we all want to beat this thing right now, today’s decision is about making the responsible choices and taking the required steps to guard against losing to it.”
UAA had previously announced that the 2020-21 season would be its last season due to budget cuts.
With this decision, the WCHA will be a nine-time league this season.
After the announcement came from UAA, a second announcement was distributed from the group Save Seawolf Hockey, which said the team may continue past this season.
“Although the cancellation impacts the upcoming season, it does not spell the end of the UAA Hockey program,” reads the release. “This afternoon, Save Seawolf Hockey, a local group dedicated to supporting UAA Division I hockey, recommitted its support to reviving – and reinventing – the hockey program in 2021-22.”
Save Seawolf Hockey says it has collected more than $850,000 in donations and pledges as it works toward its $3 million goal.
Several activities are underway to continue the fundraising efforts:
Giza Fund Challenge
The Eugene Giza Fund pledged to match all Save Seawolf Hockey donations, up to $250,000. The group is proud to report that match was met and the Giza Fund is contributing the full $250,000 pledge to the fundraising efforts. SSH is grateful to the Giza Fund for its support of UAA hockey.
UAA hockey alumni Brian Kraft donated $25,000 and challenges others to match his donation.
Split The Pot
The Benton Bay Athletic Lions Club is hosting a split the pot with half of the proceeds going to a lucky ticketholder and the other half to Save Seawolf Hockey. As of Nov. 13, the pot was more than $8,200. Tickets may be purchased at https://go.eventgroovefundraising.com/uaahockeyraffle.
Outdoor signs to support Seawolf hockey, gymnastics and skiing are available for a nominal donation. The signs were provided by the Benton Bay Athletic Lions Club. Funds collected for the yard signs will go directly to the desired sport’s fundraising efforts. Signs can be ordered at www.bentonbaylions.org.
A rivalry game between UAA alumni and UAF alumni is scheduled for 3 p.m. on December 12 in Anchorage. The game will be live-streamed on the Save Seawolf Hockey Facebook page in order to comply with the Municipality of Anchorage’s health mandates regarding gathering size limitations. The broadcast will feature play-by-play from The Sports Guys, Kurt Haider and Matt Nevala.
Text to Donate
Text UAAHOCKEY to 41444 to make a donation.
More information is available on the Save Seawolf Hockey website.