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UAA coaches push for ‘existence, not elimination'

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 11:08 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The possibility of a future without any NCAA Div. I athletics at the University of Alaska Anchorage is starting to sink in for head coaches of programs on the chopping block, including Head Hockey Coach Matt Curley and Interim Head Gymnastics Coach Marrie-Sophie Boggasch.

“Certainly unfortunate, on a variety of different levels,” Curley said.

This week, UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen and Athletic Director Greg Myford announced plans to cut gymnastics, skiing, and hockey, starting with the 2021-2022 season. They said the move will save the school $2.5 million dollars a year, with Sandeen adding that UAA is looking for ways to save $7 million to $8 million heading into fiscal year 2022.

“Anything is better than being eliminated,” Boggasch said. “Fundraising, hosting invitationals, dropping down to Division II: Everything is on the table for my team at this point.”

The interim gymnastics coach said she spoke to her entire team over the past two days and is preparing them to testify, both on Aug. 26 at UAA’s virtual town hall meeting and on Aug. 31 for public comment in front of the University of Alaska Board Of Regents. While Boggasch works on saving her team, Curley took a different approach.

“I just feel the wheels of motion have been put in place for us, for better or worse,” he said, “and that is not in any way shape or form a knock on our community, and our alumni, our supporters that we’ve had over all these years of turmoil.

“I find it tremendously difficult to believe that there is hope to get things going again on the right foot,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s how I see things.”

Curley said he believes it’s a tough path forward, given the circumstances of state funding to the university, Alaska’s economy, and an uncertain future with the Western Collegiate Hockey Association past this season.

“We have Olympians, NHLers,” Curley said. “We have Stanley Cup Champions, a long proud history of this program, and they should all be proud of what they’ve done and the way they represented this university.”

The UAA bench boss said he hopes the team can begin its 2020-21 hockey season in December and is waiting to hear from the NCAA on a decision for the upcoming season.

The final approval will be determined by the University of Alaska Board of Regents on Sept. 10 and 11. The University of Alaska Anchorage said it will honor scholarships of athletes, and that it will work closely with coaches on their contracts directly impacted by a program that’s cut.

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