Not the Coronavirus' Fault (University of Alabama-Huntsville)
I have often expressed my fondness for college hockey right here on the pages of Beacon of Speech. My favorite team in college was the Kent State Golden Flashes. I was at their last game before the President of the University said that Kent State was discontinuing Division I Hockey. She claimed it was due to a hazing incident in which most of Kent State's players were suspended. That was a lie. It was a straight up, cold-hearted financial decision and Carol Cartwright used the hazing incident to push through an unpopular budget cut.
When I went to graduate school, I found myself a new favorite college hockey team, the Mankato State Mavericks. Mankato State was a Division II Hockey Powerhouse, winning the Division II Championship in 1980. As Division II Hockey began to die in the 1990's, Mankato State made the difficult decision to jump to Division I in 1996. Why was it difficult? Because perennial Hockey Powerhouse, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, were only an hour's drive down the street. I remember sitting in the Mankato State arena in the mid-nineties, watching the Mavericks lose to the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. I would walk out of the arena mumbling "how in the HELL are the Mavericks ever going to be better than the Golden Gophers if they can't even beat a Division II school from Alabama?"
That school from Alabama won the Division II Hockey Championship in 1996 and 1998. In 1999, the NCAA discontinued the Division II Hockey Playoffs and teams were forced to choose between Division I & Division III. Alabama-Huntsville chose Division I and had some initial success, but has now posted 14 straight losing seasons.
Mankato State, on the other hand, was rebranded Minnesota State and has become a Division I giant. Minnesota State was ranked #3 in Division I College Hockey when the 2020 season was suspended. Out of 60 Division I College Hockey schools, Alabama-Huntsville ranked 60th in terms of win/loss percentage with a record of 2-26-6.
At the end of the 2019 season, Alabama-Huntsville lost their last two playoff games 3-1 & 4-1 in the WCHA tournament to old Division II rival Minnesota State.
Today, after once escaping the hockey death penalty in 2011, Alabama-Huntsville discontinued their hockey program permanently. The reason cited by the University? Coronavirus. That was bullshit. Despite some mitigating circumstances, the reason for college hockey not existing at the Division I level in Alabama lays at the feet of UAH President Dr. Darren Dawson and Director of Athletics Dr. Cade Smith, not the coronavirus. It was a straight up, cold-hearted financial decision and Dawson & Smith used the pandemic to push through an unpopular budget cut.
Even wikipedia agrees with me, so I copied and pasted it before it disappeared.
Welcome to the next controversy in American College Athletics.
In the last month UAH, Bowling Green, Akron, Furman, Cincinnati, Central Michigan, & East Carolina have all discontinued assorted sports and cited the same reason: The Coronavirus.
Without breaking down each decision, school by school, here's the real reason:
Number of sports programs the coronavirus really killed? ZERO.
Number of basketball and football programs discontinued this year? ZERO.