Good things really can happen to Southern hockey.
Back in October I wrote about everyone’s favorite person Chancellor Malcolm Portera axing the hockey program at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. This was a huge blow to hockey in the South since it has been the only Division I college hockey program in the region. But just as we were all getting getting ready for the funeral, some good news broke: a grass roots effort to save UAH hockey has worked.
According Paul Gattis of the Huntsville Times:
Members of The University of Alabama in Huntsville administration met this evening with hockey supporters, following discussions with Chancellor Malcolm Portera, and came to a consensus to work closely together to pursue institutional and community support to continue UAH hockey at the Division I level.
I did a double take when I read it. And then I did a happy dance (oh yes, I did). A grass roots effort actually worked? This is wonderful. Awesome, even! Save UAH Hockey didn’t give up, and their tireless effort paid off. Supporters can breathe a sigh of relief that the program will continue past the 2011-2012 season.
Gattis wrote in a follow-up piece that plans haven’t been finalized but should be worked out soon. Also, Save UAH Hockey has reportedly received pledges to raise more than $500,000 to subsidize the program that Portera says costs the school $1.5 million annually.
I suspect the chancellor’s sudden change of heart has something to do with rumblings that UAH wants to break away from the UA system. It’s a sentiment in Huntsville brought on by a lot more than the hockey program’s initial fate, but I don’t doubt that axing the hockey team intensified the situation.
Sure, there’s still that pesky conference issue to work out, but one step at a time right? Portera recanting is already a huge victory. Hats off to Save UAH Hockey for proving that sometimes when you fight hard enough, you win.