UAA and UAF on the same team? Maybe.
Could the Hatfields and McCoys be teaming up? Two collegiate teams aren’t fighting over turf, but to survive.
The ongoing budget crisis in the state of Alaska is having far-reaching effects. So much so that an idea floated by University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen to merge the UAA and UAF athletic departments is still on the table.
“Intercollegiate athletics, we believe is something we have to look at,” he said in April, while addressing the financial challenges facing the state’s university system.
Though a drastic move, combining the two groups remains an option and was confirmed by Dr. Gary Gray, UAF’s athletic director.
“If we’re one university, there’s one men’s basketball team, there’s one women’s basketball team, there’s one hockey team,” he said.
In a phone interview with KTVA’s Dave Leval, Dr. Gray admitted the circumstances he and his Anchorage counterparts could be facing are unusual.
“It’s an interesting challenge to say the least,” he said.
UAA’s athletic director Keith Hackett was out of the country and unavailable for comment. Hackett has stated numerous times since February that all options, including cutting teams or even the long-standing Great Alaska Shootout basketball tournament, are being considered for his department.
In reality, the rivalry between UAA and UAF, while competitive, is mostly a source of backyard bragging rights, hardly ever producing venom. But this potentially quirky arrangement could extend to the mascots. It’s likely neither would emerge as “the one.”
“If it was Seawolves or Nanooks, it would probably alienate the other half,” said Dr. Gray.
But for now, the bigger issue isn’t which mascot will appear on a jersey. It’s about which team, if either, will wear it.