In August, the University of Alaska Anchorage announced plans to eliminate four teams, including women’s gymnastics, as part of a reconfiguration to “preserve the [athletic] program’s long-term viability.” Now, the Seawolves’ gymnastics team has five months to try to save the program.
The Board of Regents voted Thursday to cut the hockey, gymnastics, and downhill ski teams after the 2020-2021 season to save money unless the teams can raise enough money in private funding to cover two years of operating expenses by February 2021.
“We’ve given them the deadline, we’ve given them the amount, and we’ve given them the time,” University of Alaska Regent Dale Anderson told Alaska Public Media.
That amount for gymnastics, specifically, is approximately $888,000.
Here’s the text of the gymnastics motion approved by regents on Thursday:
“The Board of Regents approves discontinuation of women’s gymnastics at the University of Alaska Anchorage, effective June 30, 2021. The Board will consider reestablishing women’s gymnastics if supporters can provide private funding to cover two years of operating expenses ($888,000) by February 2021. This motion is effective September 10, 2020.”
While there is hope, the impacted coaches have questions, including the types of donations that count towards the total, specifically if in-kind donations count.
Per APM, UAA Gymnastics Coach Marie-Sophie Boggasch said the regents’ decision also just made her sad. She had hoped they’d give the team more time to come up with a plan instead of the ultimatum to find nearly $900,000 by February.
“I think that we’re probably going to be really upset as a team for the rest of today,” she said. “And then, you know, regrouping and kind of seeing how we, as a team, can approach it.”
What is clear is the teams need to have at least half of the money in cash by February and half in pledges.
UAA Chancellor Cathy Sandeen told regents that she is hopeful the university will be in a better financial position in two years and could consider absorbing the costs of the sports again then.
Out of 11 regents, only two voted against the plan on Thursday.
One of those “NOs” was Cachet Garrett, who “said the dollar amounts that teams have to raise don’t seem fair, because they don’t include cost-cutting measures the coaches have proposed.”