Community Message - Community-university committee to explore Pronghorns hockey viability

This notice is from the archives of The Notice Board. Information contained in this notice was accurate at the time of publication but may no longer be so.

A week ago, the University of Lethbridge announced the discontinuation of the Pronghorns hockey programs. The necessity of such a difficult decision is rooted in our fiscal reality, as the University is adjusting to historic budget cuts. Already, we have eliminated over 60 positions since last fall. With two more signaled cuts to our provincial operating budget in 2021-22 and 2022-23, we will be required to make further significant reductions.

The funding required to maintain our hockey programs is significant. Not implementing this decision would mean numerous additional layoffs at our institution — beyond what have occurred so far and what will have to happen in the future. Our current fiscal situation means our decision regarding Pronghorns hockey must stand.

Since our announcement on April 20, I have met with alumni and friends of both the women’s and men’s programs. They continue to advocate for Pronghorns hockey and have expressed a desire to explore options that would allow our University to support hockey programs into the future.

Ensuring the viability of our hockey programs cannot be done in a week. The 2015 (and again in 2019) review of Pronghorn Athletics identified significant concerns about the sustainability of our athletic programs. In an effort to stabilize the funding situation in 2015 and allow time to source external revenues, the University committed an additional $400,000 per year for three years and $350,000 in the fourth year (for a total investment of $1.55 million). Unfortunately, over that time, support for operations has not materialized.

I am convinced, however, that many donors, friends and alumni are serious about examining this further. The resolve of many people I have talked with is strong. Recognizing this, the University will explore with the community the possibility of hockey programs returning to the University in the coming years, supported by a solid community-based funding model.

USPORTS rules dictate that universities discontinuing participation within their league must wait two years before reapplying. Therefore, it is my hope that over the next 18 months, progress can be made. As such, I am establishing a committee of donors, alumni and University representatives to look at other successful post-secondary community-based funding models and explore options with the goal of finding a solution that allows us to apply for reinstatement.

U of L alumnus, and retired entrepreneur and oilfield company executive Dan Laplante (BMgt ’88) will lead this committee. Dan has been a major donor to the Pronghorns hockey programs and his business expertise, philanthropic experience and passion for University athletics make him ideal for this role. In the coming weeks, I will announce the balance of the membership of this committee as well as its terms of reference.

While the committee undertakes its work, the University will not make any changes to scholarship funds dedicated to Pronghorns hockey athletes.

I would also like to share with you that earlier today, the U of L announced the appointment of alumnus and long-time coach Neil Langevin (BA/BEd ’91, MEd ’10) as the Director of Pronghorn Athletics, effective immediately. Langevin is currently the head coach of the Pronghorns women’s rugby program, a role which he will retain, and has played a major role in developing and promoting the sport of rugby and Pronghorn Athletics in southern Alberta and beyond for the better part of two decades.

It would be an understatement to say it is a challenging time for our University. The conversations I have had with many individuals over the past week prove to me that our community cares deeply about the presence of our university and activities it undertakes. I am heartened by this. The relationship between the University and the community has been a foundation of the success of the U of L for more than half a century and will continue to be so into our future.


Mike Mahon, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor


Trevor Kenney |