College Hockey News is reporting the University of Alabama in Huntsville is in serious discussions about the future of their hockey program which includes the distinct possibility of dropping the sport altogether.
According to various sources, UAH’s athletic budget is under scrutiny and the school needs to raise at least $500,000 per year over the next three years in order to continue to support Division I hockey.
UAH has been without a conference since the demise of College Hockey America following the 2009-10 season and last year played as the only independent program in Division I. Currently, the Chargers are still without conference affiliation and, according to CHN, have not been included in any expansion discussions that have held the college hockey world’s attention this summer.
With athletic budgets under increasing scrutiny across the country, neither Atlantic Hockey, nor the WCHA, seem willing to incur additional expenses to add the Chargers to their conference. This even as the WCHA has been decimated by the departures of seven of their twelve members and has backfilled with leftovers from the CCHA. And, though the NCHC would seem to have no concern over travel costs, their “like-minded” commitments to hockey are probably not a fit for UAH who has been an afterthought throughout the program’s 32 year history.
With just 59 schools sponsoring Division I hockey in 2011, it would be a shame for the sport to lose even one program. However, UAH is the only school south of the Mason-Dixon line playing college hockey at the highest level and they have always been a bit of an outlier. In short, it’s going to be tough for UAH to continue to support the program without a conference home. Here’s hoping either Atlantic Hockey or the WCHA give them a shot.