Mere days after it looked like the University of Alabama-Huntsville men’s hockey program was going to get cut, supporters raised a whopping $500K in hopes of keeping the UAH program alive.
With another $500K expected to come from boosters, the University of Alabama-Huntsville men’s ice hockey program reached the seemingly unrealistic goal of $1M to try to avoid the end of a program that stretches back four decades.
UAH supporters drove that $500K by combining a Go Fund Me account with T-shirt sales.
YOU DID IT! WE DID IT!
What started out as a grassroots effort to save our home team went beyond anything we could imagine. The support we have received from our hockey family across the world has been nothing short of amazing.
We did the unimaginable – TOGETHER AS A TEAM. pic.twitter.com/TAJ8CtJsfg
— Save UAH Hockey (@SaveUAHhockey) May 29, 2020
Now, this doesn’t outright guarantee the continuation of UAH’s men’s program.
“[School president Darren Dawson] did make us a verbal commitment that if you get to that number, we’ll make it happen,” former UAH player Sheldon Wolitski told AL.com. “We’re hoping he’s going to honor his word. We were asking for a formal statement from him to say that. It would be a shame to put all this effort and we raise it and he doesn’t follow through.”
Even if school officials stick to that verbal commitment, there are some hurdles to clear.
Hearing at this point there's a very good chance Huntsville plays this coming season. But situation still muddled because players have already transferred, and they still need a long-term plan.
— Adam Wodon (@CHN_AdamWodon) May 29, 2020
Not the first time the UAH men’s ice hockey program has been saved
Paul Gattis (also of AL.com) argues that the UAH men’s ice hockey program needs more than just money to survive. This is not, after all, the first time that this program needed saving. It was teetering on being canceled back in 2011 before victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat.
Even so, it’s pretty remarkable, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Does it justify comparing UAH officials to “Dr. Evil?” I’d zip it on that one.)
Those fighting for the UAH men’s ice hockey program aim to preserve something quite unusual, as Joseph Goodman noted as fundraising intensified:
UAH hockey is the only NCAA Division I hockey program in the South. How cool is that? It’s one of one — a singular, special thing just like the city it skates for and represents.
Will we see this program survive after giving Cam Talbot and others the chance to chase their dreams? It seems a lot more likely after an eventful week.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.