By Jensen, Randy on May 1, 2020.
For The Herald
The University of Lethbridge is establishing a committee to determine the feasibility of future Pronghorns hockey programs.
The committee’s goal is to find a solution allowing the university to apply for reinstatement to USPORTS in the coming years. It will be led by U of L alumnus, and retired entrepreneur and oilfield company executive, Dan Laplante.
“Dan is a longtime supporter of the Pronghorns hockey programs and of the university in general,” said Mike Mahon, U of L president and vice-chancellor. “His business expertise, philanthropic experience and passion for university athletics make him ideal for this role.”
Laplante said the history of Pronghorns hockey is a source of pride for many individuals in southern Alberta and he is hopeful the committee will be able to find a way forward.
“Pronghorn Athletics are a key connector of the university and the broader community and they are critical in building future leaders. It is my intent that the work of this committee be thorough and expeditious in determining next steps >toward the goal of reinstating Pronghorns hockey,” Laplante said.
USPORTS rules dictate that universities discontinuing participation in the league must wait two years before applying for reinstatement.
The institution has undertaken past reviews of Pronghorn Athletics, focusing on program sustainability. Reviews in 2015 and 2019 identified significant concerns about the future of the university’s athletic programs. In an effort to stabilize the funding situation in 2015, and allow time to source external revenues, the university committed over $1.5 million over four years, according to a release by the U of L. >
“It would be an understatement to say it is a challenging time for our university,” said Mahon. “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 the activities with which we are involved.”
In the coming weeks, the U of L will announce the balance of the membership of this committee as well as its terms of reference.
The U of L announced last week the discontinuation of the Pronghorns men’s and women’s hockey programs in response to historic budget cuts by the province.