‘Far from over’: UAA ski coach begins another fight to save his program

University of Alaska Anchorage Ski Coach Sparky Anderson. (KTUU)
University of Alaska Anchorage Ski Coach Sparky Anderson. (KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 8:10 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The University of Alaska Anchorage announced plans to eliminate hockey, skiing and gymnastics after the 2020-21 season.

“[I’m] very shocked,” UAA Ski Coach Sparky Anderson said over the phone. “I understand the budget crisis, we’ve been singled out so much, and had so much support from the community in the past it felt like we were on stronger footing with the administration.”

Anderson found out Wednesday morning on a Zoom call from UAA Athletic Director Greg Myford who addressed all the sports programs UAA plans to eliminate.

This cut to athletic programs would save the University $2.5 million as the school works towards shedding a total of $7.2 million from its fiscal year 2022 budget. The 2020 operating cost for both men’s and women’s skiing was $589,620, women’s gymnastics was $443,756 and men’s hockey was $1,544,310 according to numbers provided by UAA.

In 2016, the UAA ski program was almost eliminated because of recommended cuts by the University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen. The program was saved after the recommendations were reversed, but the coach feels a similar call to action in 2020.

“It’s far from over. We’re working the phones, social media, we are going to have a big push to reach out to all the regents reminding everybody of what was very clear in 2016, which is the ski team is much more than just a sports entity on campus,” Anderson said.

UAA will hold a virtual town hall meeting on Aug. 26 and the Board of Regents will hear public testimony on Aug. 31. The Board of Regents will decide whether to approve the proposed cuts during their Sept. 10-11 meeting.

“It’s not going to be the last you hear from us, and we are going to put up a good fight,” Anderson said.

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