Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reprieve for Alabama-Huntsville?

Don't bury the UAH Chargers just yet.

A story in the Huntsville Times on Tuesday explained that the new president at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, Robert Altenkirch, sat down with members of the Save UAH Hockey group—and a plan is now supposedly underway to possibly save the school's long running NCAA Division I hockey program, which was to be dropped as a varsity sport next year.

University chancellor Malcolm Portera had said in October that the Charger hockey team would be disbanded at the close of the current season due to financial constraints and likely reduced to club status. UAH, which will host the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four in Tampa, has also been without a league home since the College Hockey America conference dissolved in 2010.

The Chargers applied to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association for membership afterwards, but were rejected. The CCHA itself will cease to exist in the fall of 2013 when the new Big Ten Conference and the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, which both absorbed several CCHA teams, begin play. The remaining CCHA schools have been accepted into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Financial details of the plan(s) to save the UAH hockey program are expected to be released over the next few days. UAH goaltender Clarke Saunders has apparently committed to North Dakota for the 2012-13 campaign, since it was believed there would be no varsity UAH team after this year. Generally, transfer students do not have to sit out a year of NCAA competition when a program folds; but whether Saunders returns to UAH if the program does, has yet to be revealed.

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