Ski Racing Media’s campaign to help save the University of Alaska Anchorage alpine ski team reached its official midway point this week with more the $25,000 committed the matching campaign. SRM, in conjunction with the Team America Foundation, has pledged to match all donations made on this page, up to $50,000 for a total gift of $100,000 toward the cause.
“We are encouraged by the progress being made to save this program,” said company Chairman Dan Leever. “We are passionate believers in the importance and value of NCAA racing as a critical component of our national system. State budget cuts that are threatening the University of Alaska’s ski team have been an unfortunate trend over the last decade, and it’s incumbent on all of us in the ski racing community to stand with the Seawolves and support this important component of our sport. We are proud to do our part, and we hope everyone will do the same.”
On Sept. 10, the University of Alaska Anchorage board of regents elected to eliminate alpine ski racing from its roster of NCAA sport programs due to state funding cuts. In doing so, it raised a red flag for many in the ski racing community, particularly for the team’s head coach, Sparky Anderson.
At the NCAA level, Nordic and alpine skiing are considered one sport. In order to preserve its NCAA status, the University of Alaska must continue to support 10 sport programs. The university plans to retain the Nordic program while eliminating alpine, thereby retaining the sport of “skiing” at roughly half the budget.
In a shrinking NCAA west — which in recent years has already lost programs, such as the University of New Mexico, University of Nevada, and Western State College — the revelation that a university could slash one of those two programs, Nordic or alpine, and still “get credit” for the entire skiing program is an alarming one.
To save the program, Anderson, his athletes and the Seawolf community have launched an ambitious fundraising campaign. The goal is to raise a total of $628,000 over the next two years, half of which ($314,000) needs to be secured in cash by Dec. 31, 2020. The remainder can be secured in the form of pledges for the following season.
Most importantly, Anderson says, if this goal is met, the program will be retained permanently.
“The chancellor (Cathy Sandeen) said publicly at the board of regents meeting that, if we can raise this money and come up with two years of operating cost, she anticipates restructuring of the university and economic forecasting to improve to the point where the sports that we have will be reinstated and funded,” Anderson said.
As part of this effort, Ski Racing is pleased to match all donations up to $50,000. All donations made on this page will be directed to Friends of UAA Skiing. Donations are tax deductible as TA Foundation is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization. You will receive a donation receipt via email upon submission.
“I’m constantly blown away by the strength and support of our ski racing community,” said Anderson. “We’re truly a band of brothers and sisters, and nothing has demonstrated that more than everyone’s engagement in this effort. This Ski Racing Media match is so huge for us, so generous, and another example of the connection we all share.”