Stand up for UAA Athletics group formed

A number of long time UAA athletic champions is forming a group to stand up for UAA Athletics and it’s leadership. Headed by Don Winchester and Steve Nerland, the two believe there is a targeting of UAA Athletics and Dr Steve Cobb by University by UA Statewide administration based in Fairbanks. They believe that UA Statewide leadership is looking to terminate Dr Cobb…over the apparent objection of UAA Administration. The recent allegation of a cover up regarding a 2011 incident with former UAA Hockey Coach Dave Shyiak. will come out in an impending report headed by UAF security chief. Nerland said that if there is no crime….that means there is no coverup as alleged. Dr Cobb indicated he followed all University protocol and procedures by reporting it to NCAA representative at UAA.

Winchester stated that it should beyond that, it is University legal and security personnel that should have informed UA Statewide administration at that time in 2011. The two men were quick to point out it is not the current or past UAA Chancellor’s that are involved in the targeting. “Fran Ulmer and Tom Case have been significant supporter’s of UAA Athletics and Dr Cobb’s record of achievement, said Nerland. He went on to say, “Dr Cobb has set an incredible standard of academic and graduation performance, plus more championships under his watch…., than all previous athletic administrator’s combined. “Winchester said that if Dr Cobb is terminated….then academic standards, winning championships and graduating student/athlete’s at UAA must not be important to theUA Statewide administration based in Fairbanks. We would like to do a comparison of achievement between UAA and UAF athletics over the last 10 years. Nerland said, “ it would not be close.” Win’s and loses, and GPA overall... not even close. This

Is probably hard to take in the Golden Heart City. “ Nerland said that somehow they believe that the Alaska Airlines Center is also involved in Cobb’s alleged termination rumor. Cobb was the chief advocate beginning in 2007 for an on campus facility. “UA Statewide leadership was never really engaged in the idea for this facility…it all came from UAA athletics and then subsequently Chancellor Fran Ulmer after she was hired. “ In 2009 , the UA Statewide leadership recommended to the Board of Regents to NOT support the facility, even though there was $15 million in planning money in hand. “ They wanted the Life Science Building in Fairbanks as the only priority, said Winchester referring to the notes of that December Board of Regents meeting which was held in Anchorage. He said, a huge group of UAA supporters testified about the importance to the community including representatives of the Mayor’s office, the Anchorage Assembly and the Visitors Bureau. It was voted down 11-0 by the Regents. State Legislative leaders thought otherwise and ultimately authorized funding for both project’s thru

capital budget’s and general obligation bond funding in 2010. Nerland and Winchester worked on the successful Yes on B campaign that passed throughout Alaska in 2010 with an overwhelming majority. Nerland said throughout the process, they learned that UAA was not the favored priority for funding from Statewide leadership for one reason. “It was not located in Fairbanks.” As further proof of this position, Winchester noted that the current future priority of the UA Statewide leadership is not a new Health Science or dormitories at UAA….but a $250 million power plant in Fairbanks. He said…”this alone will tell you where loyalties are in division of funds to various campuses throughout the State. Winchester stated ….”A power plant….are you kidding me? What does that have to do with graduating students, and improving the University for our State? $250 Million to serve 10, 000 people in Fairbanks on the UAF campus...I would guess other Fairbanks residents suffering from high energy costs would not be

sympathetic to UAF getting $250 million for a power plant….when their fuel oil bills are through the roof.” Winchester said, We are not Regents nor desire to be. But this strategy is politically flawed…in that the idea received 0 dollars in this year’s capital budget of nearly $2 billion. We were told “it was a non starter” by some legislative leaders said Nerland A more strategic approach should include collaboration with local utilities in Fairbanks to take over or improve the power plant. Nerland said, “ UAF can scratch a check for operating funds to a local utility…just like UAA does to Enstar, Chugach Electric and ML and P.” He also said, he was guessing that if UAA wanted a power plant…and if it that idea was advanced by UA Statewide leadership …most local Anchorage residents would call it laughable.”

The two believe that Dr Cobb’s unabashed support for everything UAA…may have rubbed some UA Statewide leadership wrong. Cobb, has been known to trumpet the UAA vs UAF rivalry as a rallying point for the community.

Since UAA has dominated UAF in just about every sport that they compete “ Nerland said….Cobb was just doing what you would expect any Athletic Director to do…champion the school he represents.” The UAA domination of UAF that probably doesn’t go over well in Fairbanks up on the Hill. Nerland, who was born and grew up in Fairbanks was referring to the UA Statewide Administration Building which is on a viewpoint rise high above the Tanana Valley overlooking Fairbanks.

However most importantly to Winchester and Nerland, the leadership that Dr Cobb has exhibited in UAA athletics has set an unprecedented standard for academic and athletic performance …that all University Department’s and campuses including UAF and UA Southeast would be envious of said Winchester. Winchester said “, I would bet…that secretly UAF wishes they would have as an effective and experienced administrator as Dr Steve Cobb.

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