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, May 5.
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.
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.”