Alaska opts out of 2020-21 hockey season, citing health concerns

Alaska celebrates a victory during the 2019-20 season (photo: UAF Athletics).

Alaska notified the WCHA on Friday afternoon that it will opt out of the 2020-21 hockey season, effective immediately.

The announcement on hockey was made in conjunction with a decision to suspend competition in men’s and women’s basketball at the school as well due to health and safety concerns.

“We realize this was a challenging and tough decision,” WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson said in a statement. “We respect chancellor Dan White and vice chancellor for student affairs and athletics Keith Champagne’s wishes to opt out of the 2020-21 WCHA men’s league season. All of us at the WCHA wish UAF nothing but success in the future with their hockey program.”

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is paramount,” White said in a message to the UAF community. “Participation in indoor contact sports like basketball and hockey creates elevated risk to the athletes and those who train and travel with them.”

“We were all hoping that conditions would improve so that our teams could compete,” Champagne said. “While we know our teams are disappointed about not being able to compete, our first job is to provide a safe training and competition environment,” he said. “This decision, while difficult, helps protect the health of our student athletes and paves the way for a successful return to play next season.”

With this decision, the WCHA will be an eight-time league this season. Adjustments to the 2020-21 league schedule are to be determined.