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COVID-19 forcing UAH to take steps for more budget reductions; especially in athletics

Because of COVID-19, UAH has made the difficult decision to discontinue the men's hockey, men's tennis, and women's tennis programs.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala — Like our state and nation, UAH is experiencing enormous challenges as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the uncertainty, we want to assure you that we are working diligently with the UA System's leadership and our UAH team to ensure that we will have a safe campus while maintaining the academic, organizational and financial integrity of the University. 

To address the financial challenges, we have implemented a hiring freeze, a heightened review of spending, cancellations of faculty sabbaticals, and a temporary suspension of the 403(b) voluntary retirement employer match. The uncertainty of our future financial situation requires that we take additional steps to reduce expenses, including cutting some programs and reorganizing some units to create savings from improved efficiencies. All units across the University are sacrificing for the greater good.

After a comprehensive review of UAH's athletic offerings and the associated long-term budget implications, we have made the difficult decision to discontinue the men's hockey, men's tennis, and women's tennis programs. The student-athletes associated with these programs have been outstanding representatives of the University in the classroom and on the field. We are making this decision now to allow our student-athletes in hockey, men's and women's tennis programs to have the opportunity to play at another institution if they choose to do so. Student-athletes who would like to join another institution's roster will be released without penalty and free to transfer immediately. For student-athletes associated with these three programs who wish to complete their education at UAH, their current scholarships will be honored for the duration of the students' academic careers. 

To our student-athletes, alumni, donors, and fans, we are sincerely grateful to everyone who has supported the men's hockey, men's tennis, and women's tennis athletic programs at UAH. Your accomplishments will be remembered, and your legacy will endure. These actions are the necessary result of intensive review and discussion about where we can make adjustments that protect our current financial condition with the least possible disruption to our central mission – education, research and service to the community.

Sincerely,

Darren Dawson, President

Cade Smith, Athletic Director        

      

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Why is this being done?

COVID-19 pandemic has forced the university to make difficult personnel and programmatic decisions. Eliminating the expense of the hockey and tennis programs is a necessary step to ensure that UAH can continue meeting its core educational mission.

How did UAH choose to eliminate these sports?

A number of factors, based primarily on financial concerns, were carefully considered before the final decision was made.

How did UAH alert the affected student-athletes to these changes?

As COVID-19 social distancing guidelines don't allow for a team meeting, an email message was sent from the athletic director followed by coaches' meetings with players over teleconference.

How many student-athletes are affected?

Approximately 45 student-athletes are affected.

Will student-athlete scholarships be honored?

All scholarship-eligible student-athletes affected by this reduction will have their athletic scholarships honored for up to four years. If they choose transfer, NCAA rules allow them to transfer and play right away and not have to sit out a year.

Is UAH considering other reductions in sports programs?

Not at this time.

How many coaches and staff members are affected?

5 full time staff members are affected.

Will UAH assist current and incoming student-athletes who wish to pursue opportunities at other schools?

Yes, UAH will work individually with students.

Is the economic fallout from the pandemic causing other universities to modify or eliminate athletic programs?

Yes. An indication of the depth and severity of the economic impact caused by the coronavirus, universities around the country have announced plans to eliminate positions, freeze or reduce athletics personnel salaries, and cut entire athletic programs, all to better ensure the long-term health of their institutions as a whole. Among the schools announcing program reductions:

  • Florida International University will cut its men's indoor track and field program
  • Old Dominion has cut its wrestling program to reduce costs amid the pandemic
  • University of Cincinnati will drop its iconic men's soccer program, which has been in place since 1973
  • Bowling Green State University cut its baseball program
  • Florida Tech cut its football program
  • St. Edwards cut six sports
  • University of Akron cut three sports
  • Sonoma State cut three sports
  • Urbana University is closing down entirely
  • Furman University is cutting baseball and men's lacrosse
  • Central Michigan cut men's track and field

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