Never in the history of collegiate athletics has there been a school forced to disband its men's ice hockey program despite winning a national championship at some point.
That's all about to change at the University of Alabama-Huntsville following the 2011-12 campaign.
According to CollegeHockeyNews.com, Alabama-Huntsville interim president Malcolm Portera will announce on Monday that the Chargers will disband their Division I hockey program after 33 years following the completion of this season.
According to the Huntsville Times, UAH head coach Chris Luongo
informed the team of the situation on Sunday night. Both players and coaches were scheduled to meet with Portera on Monday morning.
"I don't think it's possible to be blindsided by a meeting tomorrow morning, but I'd rather be the one doing the blindsiding than someone who's not there on their behalf," Luongo told the paper.
Alabama-Huntsville won national titles in 1996 and '98 in Division II, before becoming a Division I independent. In 1999-2000, the school joined College Hockey America along with a few other schools. They'd make NCAA Tournament appearances in 2006-07 and 2009-10. But the CHA proved to be unstable as teams came and went -- it ultimately disbanded after the 2009-10 campaign. The remaining schools at the time, Robert Morris, Niagara and Bemidji State, all found other homes, leaving Huntsville as the long Division I independent when 2010-11 started.
Alabama-Huntsville made an effort to join another conference but was denied entry into the Central Collegiate Hockey Association two years ago.
According to College Hockey News, a private fund-raising drive was started by fellow hockey alum Nathan Bowen. The Huntsville Times reported that Bowen raised over $500,000 in pledges over a three-year period. He was scheduled to meet with Portera on Tuesday.
The Chargers are currently 0-7-1. Nashville Predators
forward Blake Geoffrion
has two younger brothers starring for the team, sophomore Brice and junior Sebastian, who serves as an alternate captain. While neither has any points in 8 games so far, Sebastian, a junior, does lead the way with 24 penalty minutes.