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Alaska university regents give teams more time to fundraise

| February 28, 2021 12:03 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The University of Alaska Board of Regents will give the hockey and gymnastics teams on the Anchorage campus the opportunity to save their programs through additional fundraising.

The governing body of the university system on Thursday voted unanimously to give the University of Alaska Anchorage teams extended deadlines to raise the money they need to be reinstated.

The regents approved proposals offered by Anchorage officials that could result in a return to competition for the gymnastics team during the next school year and for the hockey team in the 2022-2023 school year.

The men’s hockey has raised just over half of its $3 million goal, while the gymnastics program raised about 40% of the required $888,000.

The vote gave the gymnastics team four months to hit the halfway point of its goal and 16 months to reach the full amount. The hockey team was given six months to achieve its full goal.

Both programs, along with alpine skiing, were cut by the university in September because of budget constraints.

When the regents ended the three programs for 2021, they offered the caveat that the decision could be reversed if the teams raised enough money to cover two years of operating expenses by February.

The ski team reached its $628,000 goal in December and was reinstated the next month.

Some board members said they were pleased with the hockey and gymnastics fundraising efforts so far.

“I was looking for the community engagement,” member Ralph Seekins said. “In such a short period, there’s a huge amount that has already been raised. I’m very impressed.”

University of Alaska Anchorage leaders applauded the programs for raising large amounts of the money.

“I’m so excited about this, the momentum,” interim President Pat Pitney said. “The community support has been just remarkable.”

Anchorage Chancellor Bruce Schultz said gender equity issues tied together the fates of the two teams because of the Title IX federal law preventing discrimination in education funding. Unless the hockey team reaches its goal, the gymnastics team will not be allowed to proceed beyond the 2021-2022 school year.

“At some point because of Title IX, neither team would be able to continue” without the other, Schultz said.