Nov 4, 2016
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Help save collegiate skiing in Alaska

The NCAA Collegiate Skiing programs at University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) are under grave threat of closure.

These programs need your help.


1. Sign petition #1: to not have NCAA grant the University of Alaska the waiver to cut their athletic programs

2. Sign petition #2: a new vision and budget idea that saves all athletics and petitions the legislator to stop the cuts

3. Before November 10, write a letter to the University of Alaska Board of Regents and email it to and carbon copy us For ideas see the bullet points below.

4. Attend the rally on November 10 in Fairbanks! More details at

5. Also, to improve awareness, you can email/call each Regent directly.

5. Also, to improve awareness, you can email/call each Regent directly.

Jyotsna Heckman (chair) 907-347-6062 (cell)

Gloria O'Neill 907-793-3278 (voice) 907-793-3422 (fax)

Kenneth J. Fisher 907-523-0800 (home)

John Davies 907-388-0193 (cell) 907-474-4927 

Dale Anderson 907-723-8687 (cell)

Sheri Buretta 907-261-0310 (work)

Mary K. Hughes 

Stacey Lucason (907) 360-9697 (cell)

Deena M. Paramo (907) 742-4312 (work) (907) 631-2679 

Lisa Parker 907-398-1883 (cell)

Andy Teuber 907-942-1063 (cell)

Talking points

We need all of UA's ski programs. UAA and UAF have been in healthy competition throughout their histories as ski programs. This is very important for improving the sports of skiing in as well as out of state. In order to compete at the national NCAA level, the skiteams must retain both, alpine and cross-country skiing in order to stay competitive nationwide. This allowed UAA to place in the top ten ranked teams in the nation in 31 out of 34 years since its inception.

Athletic cuts present considerable brand risks for UAA and UAF. The Board of Regents' (BoR) responsibility is to assess whether educational and character-building benefits of collegiate athletics are real and whether the return on investment is positive. Continued testimony to the BoR since the elimination of skiing and indoor track has been announced, has shown overwhelming support of the public for UA skiing and running. There is no better public barometer to assess the public's attitude towards the role of athletics in the UA system than this testimony. At the University of Alaska, the ROI of collegiate skiing is real and positive (Gerdy, 2016).

UA ski programs generate additional tuition that would go away by cutting ski programs.

1) UA ski programs attract student skiers beyond the top athletes receiving full ride scholarships. The additional out-of-pocket tuition spending by these students many of which pay the higher out-of-state tuition rates, amounts to $164,409 for the current academic year. This tuition would go away as students would seek other universities.

2) Successful athletic programs significantly increase the quantity and quality of incoming students. Econometric research estimates that success in collegiate sports increases the quantity and quality of all incoming students by 2% to 8% annually (Pope and Pole, 2009).

Athletics is the budget category with the smallest proportion of expenditures in the UA budget. Over the past four years, athletics on average amounted to between 1.5 and 1.7% of UA's overall expenditures. (See budget p. 62). This compares to a national average of 3.5% for Division I schools (NCAA, 2003).

Excellence on the slopes, trails, in the class room, and in the community. For the past twenty years the UAA ski team has had the highest average GPA and the best graduation rates of all athletic teams. The ski team serves over 250 hours of direct community service each year. This performance is in line with recommendations by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Institutions must weigh the value of athletics against costs and benefits they present. Most importantly, institutions must support academic values and a heightened focus on amateurism (Kirwan and Turner 2010).

Over 60% of collegiate skiers coming to Alaska stay in Alaska for at least two years beyond graduation. Many athletes end up staying in Alaska becoming role models and leaders in our community. They are part of the human capital Alaska needs to diversify its economy and innovate to solve this state's future challenges.

Cutting ski programs would leave only cross-country running as an outdoors sport.  Becoming financially self-reliant takes time and community. The ski teams themselves were given no opportunity to come up with their own solutions to the fiscal impasse before this decision was made. At the very minimum, the broader Alaska community should have been given notification to develop a 3-year action plan providing time to develop other means of financial support to sustain the programs, including corporate sponsorship.

The situation provides opportunity for fund raising but only if programs are retained and the community remains involved. The Alaska Legislature is requiring all UA athletic programs to become fiscally self-reliant by 2025. In the meantime, Alaska's fiscal landscape may improve but these programs will be gone. It is much more difficult to resurrect a program that has been terminated than breathe new life into a program that has been reduced and sustained by other funding for a few years. Eliminating programs runs the risk of upsetting potential donors.

Any solution must be fair to all student athletes. One solution could be for all athletic programs to work together to find alternative funding sources and take an equal percentage of the university budget cuts

until new revenue is sourced. This would allow a more fair distribution of cuts and minimize effects on students.
Ski traditions run deep in our northern culture. Alaska is the place where Olympians are grown and little kids toddle on Nordic skis soon after they learn to walk. Our skiing venues are among the best in the world, offering the terrain and infrastructure to compete at the highest level. That's because the Alaska ski community knows how to work together, raise money, and develop some of the best ski programs in the world. This attracts world-class athletes.

Skiing is a healthy lifetime sport that connects all generations and supports healthy lifestyle choices. In 2012, 65% of adult Alaskans were considered overweight and obese (TFAH, 2013).

Collegiate skiing has a long-time history, longer than any other athletic program in Alaska. At UAA, skiing was the first athletic program established in 1978. Since then it has developed into a national athletic and academic power house, attracting world-class athletes who raise the bar for other athletes and students alike.

Rushing important decisions is never a good idea, particularly not when decisions appear to be made behind closed doors. The timing of the decision has been driven by a NCAA deadline for waiver applications. Rushing important decisions with long-term consequences is not a good idea--particularly when it involves not following a previously-announced transparent process in UA Strategic Pathways. In this case it affects trust in the entire process by which UA will be making much more important and bigger funding decisions about academic programs. An important issue is whether the university is going to stick to the processes they have announced, or make arbitrary decisions without appropriate involvement of the university community and the public.

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Enjoy Winter,

Andrew Gerlach
Director/Editor- SkiPost
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