HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - It’s bad news for UAH sports fans! The university’s hockey team is gone. The Athletic director also announced the school’s men’s and women’s tennis teams have been cut, effective immediately.
A lot of UAH fans are mad, upset and disappointed the athletic director cut three sporting programs. For UAH hockey fans, that means saying goodbye to 41 years of history. WAFF talked with the man who founded the program and was the teams first coach.
“Our club years were all very good. We won three national championships, but also in the 90′s we won two NCAA division two championships after we went varsity,” said Joe Ritch.
Ritch was the head coach of the UAH Chargers hockey team from day one. He coached the team for the first three years, 1979 through 1982. For more than four decades fans packed the arena and cheered on their team.
“People would say instead of saying USA they were saying UAH. The crowds kept getting bigger and bigger,” said Ritch.
Like a lot of Charger hockey fans, Ritch is disappointed the university’s Athletic director decided to cut the program. The locks on the tennis courts for both the men and women’s teams won’t open anytime soon. All three sporting programs have been eliminated to cut cost as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The student athletes on scholarship will be taken care of.
“One concern is that if you’re in the transfer portal the university is not really obligated to pay those scholarships we’re going to make sure that’s not the case here they can be in the transfer portal up until classes start and try to find a place and we got it if they don’t,” said Athletic Director Cade Smith.
The UAH hockey team was the only varsity college hockey team in the Southeast and some say that’s the reason why this cut was made. When you have a league and have to travel so far to so many different schools in order to play, it just simply cost too much money.