ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - As the University of Alaska Board of Regents begins the process of consolidating the UA system - to try and accommodate a 41 percent funding cut from the state - alpine skiing transfer Rebecca Fiegl considers her future.
While the long-term remains up in the air, University of Alaska officials say that despite the Board of Regents vote to move forward with consolidation, all UAA and UAF sports teams will compete as planned in the 2019-20 season.
Committed to her sport and representing the Seawolves as best she can, she works out six days a week, twice a day, and recently paid out-of-pocket to train on a glacier in her home country of Austria.
“(UAA Head Coach) Sparky (Anderson) always puts lots of effort into the team," she said, "and he welcomed me with open arms coming from Univ. of New Mexico."
Fiegl earned second-team All-America honors in the giant slalom during her freshman season at the University of New Mexico and followed up her freshman campaign with a 15th place slalom finish at the NCAA Championships this past winter.
The skier’s time in Albuquerque, however, was short-lived, since the program was cut due to financial problems and newly surfaced Title IX compliance concerns, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
“The first time we heard that we might be cut was at NCAA's was rough to handle, mentally, at that point in the season,” Fiegl wrote in an email.
The NCAA Championships were held in March, and by April it was confirmed the program was being scrapped. That was particularly bad timing, considering most college rosters were already full for the next season, and Fiegl was no longer able to access UNM athletic resources like vans or trucks to ski.
“Those were really rough days, considering that I didn't know how and where I'll finish my degree, and if I was going be skiing,” she wrote.
Given her time in New Mexico, Fiegl is not naïve to what could happen in Alaska. She said she is "following the news very closely," and "bugs" her coach about it, too.
"It surprised me, that I'm somewhat in the same situation as I was already twice before,” she wrote.
Before the Lobos' skiing program was officially cut, Fiegl said that two years ago - before she committed to the program - it was supposed to be cut, but was reinstated again.
UAA Head Ski Coach Sparky Anderson has been vocal about his support to keep the ski team intact and said he feels his 2020 season could be one of the best teams he’s ever had.
According to him, he's "got a team that is maybe the best group of athletes that I’ve ever had."
State of University of Alaska Athletics
On Tuesday, the University of Alaska Board of Regents voted 8-3 to move towards combining the three universities into one single, accredited entity.
When asked how this would immediately impact the University of Alaska Anchorage athletics department, UAA Athletic Director Greg Myford emailed this response: “The immediate (or long-term) impact of the Board of Regents meeting on athletics is not yet known. Clearly, decisions are coming that will impact many areas of the University. Safe to say that more will be known in the coming days and weeks.”
The University of Alaska had a similar response when asked how the future UA system athletic department model will look:
“Those details will be developed over the next few weeks as the university engages with students, faculty, staff, supporters and community members on these questions,” wrote Associate Vice President Roberta Graham in an email Tuesday.
The NCAA requires a minimum of 10 athletic teams per institution, currently, UAF (10) and UAA (13) has 23 teams between them. The UA Board of Regents will meet next in Juneau on September 12th.
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