Lethbridge,AB- On Monday morning, The University of Lethbridge announced that they will be disbanding their varsity hockey programs, citing provincial funding cuts as a primary reason.
The school has implemented budgeting strategies in the last three years, but the most recent decisions from the government of Alberta forced them to take it one step further. Disbanding the hockey program leaves 52 student-athletes without a school or hockey team if they wish to continue their lives on the ice. It also cuts all the coaching and administration jobs that were surrounding the teams. This is in addition to last week when the executive director position was eliminated from the department.
In a statement regarding the closure of the program, university president Mike Mahon said: “The Pronghorn hockey programs have been a source of great pride for our athletes, students, alumni, donors, sponsors, the campus community and supporters throughout southern Alberta. I know this news will significantly impact everyone associated with these programs.”
The Pronghorn men have had a long history in U SPORTS hockey, having been coached by both Olympic champion and Stanley Cup-winning coach Mike Babcock, as well as former Calgary Flames bench boss Bill Peters. The school hosted the men’s 2019 University Cup and won that championship in 1994.
The women’s team which began operations in 1997 had one national championship appearance.
Torinn White, a senior for the men’s team took to Twitter and mentioned the lack of communication from the university in regards to the program’s closure. 49 has learned that players were told in an email a few hours prior to the official announcement.
Dan Khavkin, one of our Canada West correspondents, has been in touch with some of those involved and will have a further story later today and Pronghorns men’s assistant coach Brandon Greenside will make an appearance on the What’s Up With U podcast.