University of Alberta suspends hockey, basketball, volleyball next season

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The U Sports season has been hit hard by COVID-19 across multiple sports. (Justin Tang/CP)

EDMONTON — The University of Alberta has suspended men’s and women’s hockey, basketball and volleyball for 2020-21 season for what the university says are “financial reasons.”

Cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant, the Alberta government demanding that universities balance budgets and reduce expenditures, and the reduction in athletics and recreation fees waived for spring and summer semesters “has produced a worst-case scenario for University of Alberta varsity sport,” according to athletic director Ian Reade.

“This scenario has brought most of our diverse revenue streams to a complete halt, and the athletics budget is no longer able to support participation for the 2020-2021 season,” Reade said in a statement Wednesday.

“While this is an extremely hard decision for us, it is in the best interest of the student-athletes that we make this decision now so their future is somewhat more clear.”

Reade said the University of Alberta will “remain committed” to student-athletes receiving athletic financial assistance and to hosting the 2021 national wrestling championship.

The Golden Bears have won the most national men’s hockey championships in the tournament’s history with 16.

Canada West had already cancelled team sports for the rest of 2020 because of public health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A decision will be made in October on starting shortened seasons in 2021.

“Canada West was disheartened to learn of the University of Alberta’s decision not to compete in the sports of basketball, volleyball, and hockey during the upcoming 2020-21 season,” the conference said in a statement.

“At the same time, Canada West fully understands the difficult financial position many of our members currently find themselves in.

“University sport continues to be negatively impacted financially as a result of COVID-19, which has reduced or eliminated athletic and recreation fees, cut into fundraising efforts, and has been compounded by overall budget cuts to many post-secondary institutions.”

The University of Lethbridge announced in April it was axing men’s and women’s hockey permanently for budgetary reasons.

U Sports cancelled fall national championships earlier this month because of the virus, including football’s Vanier Cup, women’s rugby and field hockey and the men’s and women’s soccer and cross-country championships.

The Ontario and Atlantic conferences both cancelled all varsity sport for the rest of 2020.

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