ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - More than two thousand people gathered at the Alaska Airlines Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus Tuesday for the “Save our State” rally. Among the crowd were UAA athletes and coaches supporting an override of Governor Dunleavy's budget vetoes.
“I just hope that the legislature is going to get their act together,” said UAA Head Ski Coach Sparky Anderson. “They need to get together, and they need to override these cuts.”
The longtime ski coach has a history of fighting for his program: In 2016, the University of Alaska's Strategic Pathways program put his ski team on the chopping block. Anderson said Tuesday that the 2019 Budget vetoes are much worse.
“You’re not looking at one program or one team, you’re talking about eliminating an entire university,” he said. “It would be crushing to the state. It would absolutely be the wrong direction.”
As for what’s going to happen, the teams have to take a "wait and see approach," Anderson said.
“Of course, there’s a lot of speculation," he said, "but there’s really no telling what will stay and what will go."
That uncertainty is felt by other athletics staff members, too. UAA women’s basketball coaches Ryan McCarthy and Shaina Afoa were in rural Alaska when they heard the news about the budget vetoes Gov. Dunleavy set forth.
“The night before we were actually talking about how UAA is where we want to be,” Afoa said. “We're not really looking to go anywhere else. With these budget cuts, maybe that might not be an option for us anymore."
McCarthy didn’t join Tuesday’s rally, but shared a statement on twitter explaining his perspective on the vetoes.
Perspective on the veto in Alaska part 1/2... I could tell story after story about the outstanding student athletes we’ve been fortunate to coach, but in respect to time here is my statement. Part two is in response bubble below. pic.twitter.com/6xNysdsoPn— Ryan McCarthy (@CoachRMcCar) July 9, 2019
The governor told reporters in June that the University of Alaska is "resilient," and that university leaders would work out ways to manage the cuts.
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