ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – They’re upset and now they’re fighting to stay. The University of New Mexico ski team was told this week they were getting cut, but now they’re trying to change that.
The team said many of them came to UNM specifically for the ski program. They said they’ve become a family since coming here and once they found out they were being cut, they were devastated.
“I’m going to try to apply to other schools. I’m going to try to get another academic scholarship, but it’s so late in the year. Most likely, my ski career is over,” said Brenna Egan.
A Utah native, Egan said the only reason she came to UNM was to be a part of the ski team. Earlier this week, her dreams were crushed after the university announced it’s cutting the program to save the athletic department around $600,000.
“I immediately started crying and I felt lost. I didn’t know what was next. I couldn’t believe that my family was basically going to be turned away from New Mexico,” she said.
That’s when Patrick Brachner decided to start a petition on Change.org to try and save the team.
“Give people a chance to, yeah, do something and take some sort of action,” he said.
Brachner, an Austria native, said the UNM ski program is a big deal in his country. He said he feels like Paul Krebs, the VP of Athletics at UNM, just pulled the rug out from under him and his team.
“In every relationship you have to work together and how this whole thing happened was just, unjustified in my opinion,” he said.
The team’s assistant and head coaches said their budget is around $250,000 a year, far from the $600,000 the athletic department said it costs to keep them around. Both coaches feel like the athletic department needs to reconsider their decision.
“I think the allocation of those funds is where it needs to be addressed. Not with defunding and taking away opportunities,” said Joe Downing, assistant coach.
“I’m working day and night fighting this. We’re going to try and get this overturned. We want them to realize, we want Krebs to realize he made a mistake,” said Fredrik Landstedt, head coach.
The team is trying to reach 7,500 signatures to present to the Board of Regents. KRQE News 13 reached out to the Assistant Athletic Director for Communications for comment. Frank Mercogliano said he acknowledges the petition, but doesn’t have much to say about it.
Since its start in 1968, the ski team has earned 17 individual NCAA championship titles and was the first team in UNM’s history to win an overall NCAA team title in 2004.