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Alabama-Huntsville eliminates hockey program

Cites virus for financial woes; MTU was to host UAH for Winter Carnival

The WCHA will be a team short this season.

Alabama-Huntsville eliminated its hockey program on Friday as a part of spending cuts resulting from COVID-19, the university said. The university said the decision would take immediate effect.

UAH eliminated the men’s and women’s tennis programs along with hockey. UAH athletic director Cade Smith said student-athletes with the three programs can transfer and play at other schools. Michigan Tech was scheduled to visit UAH on Nov. 6-7 and host the Chargers for Winter Carnival on Feb. 5-6.

“The student-athletes associated with these programs have been outstanding representatives of the University in the classroom and on the field,” Smith said in an open letter. “We are making this decision now to allow our student-athletes in hockey, men’s and women’s tennis programs to have the opportunity to play at another institution if they choose to do so. “Student-athletes who would like to join another institution’s roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. For student-athletes associated with these three programs who wish to complete their education at UAH, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of the students’ academic careers.”

WCHA president and men’s league commissioner Bill Robertson said he was “deeply saddened” by UAH’s announcement.

“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.

“Lastly, I know this was a difficult decision for UAH president Dr. Darren Dawson and director of athletics Dr. Cade Smith, but one that was made with thoughtful and thorough review of the ramifications for the university and the student-athletes and coaches it is affecting.”

Smith said the university also implemented a hiring freeze, cancellations of faculty sabbaticals, temporary suspension of voluntary retirement employer match and other academic program cuts.

“All units across the university are sacrificing for the greater good,” Smith said.

UAH hockey finished the 2019-20 season 2-26-6 including 2-20-6 in the WCHA. The Chargers were scheduled to open next season Oct. 23-24 at Ferris State.

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