EDMONTON — The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns will no longer compete in men's and women's hockey, effective immediately.
The announcement was made Monday morning by Lethbridge, which has participated in Canada West men's hockey since the 1984-85 season and women's hockey since it was added as a conference sport in 1997-98.
Lethbridge's decision to drop hockey was made by the U of L's Board of Governors as part of the school's budget reduction strategy, which has been necessitated due to post-secondary funding cuts implemented by the Government of Alberta.
Canada West's Sport Committee will begin work immediately on options for altered CW men's and women's hockey schedules.
"We understand that these are incredibly challenging times for our members and that cutting a program is a decision that is never taken lightly. Nonetheless it's always disappointing to have a member end their participation in a CW sport," said CW President Clint Hamilton. "Canada West and our remaining hockey members are committed to providing the best opportunities in the nation for student-athletes striving to reach their full potential on the ice and in the classroom."
Over their 36-year history in men's hockey, the Pronghorns captured one CW title and one national title – both coming during the 1993-94 season. In 23 years, the women's program made the conference playoffs a total of seven times, most recently in 2011-12.
Lethbridge cutting hockey marks the first contraction of the sport in CW since 2002 when Brandon University dropped their men's program and the University of Calgary left CW women's hockey. Calgary rejoined women's hockey in 2009 and would go on to win the national championship just two years later.
CW MEMBERS SET TO REVIEW 2020-21 SCHEDULE OPTIONS
Canada West members will convene digitally this week to discuss scheduling formats in all sports for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The meeting comes in response to both the current financial climate and potential for shortened seasons due to COVID-19.
"Over the last month the CW Board of Directors has been meeting weekly to discuss how the conference can navigate the unprecedented times we currently find ourselves in and provide the best possible student-athlete experience during the 2020-21 season," said Hamilton. "While the financial realities are not the same for all our members, we collectively recognize the importance of working together to ensure university sport remains strong through the upcoming season and beyond."
"We are working to lower costs and build schedules which can be completed once we are given the go-ahead by our institutions and the respective health authorities across Western Canada to return to play."
Further details on the 2020-21 CW schedules will be provided at a later date.