With the Big Ten conference slated to announce its hockey plans, it prompted this question: Could this lead to other major schools adding hockey?
I’ve put this question to a few people and it all comes back to the money schools are willing to invest. Athletic departments, depending on the school, just aren’t rolling in the money so it would take something major for them to add hockey.
There’s also Title XI to consider too. Another women’s program, whether it be hockey or another sport, to possibly balance that out because it has to be similar numbers in budget.
Still, here are some schools that would be interesting to consider in no particular order.
-Syracuse: New York state has Cornell, RIT and Niagara is hanging around too. College hockey in the state can work. ‘Cuse is a really good sports town and Chris Peters, smartest man covering junior hockey, said it could be a challenge because the town has the Crunch, an AHL franchise. It would be interesting to see how the town could juggle two hockey teams and a basketball team always in the title hunt.
-Rhode Island: Kind of figured this would be a good fit but thanks to Fiona Quick, come to find out, URI has wanted to do this for a while. She made the point that URI has a somewhat new arena and how the athletic director has been quoted as saying that he’d like to bring hockey to the school. That and it could make for a good Providence-URI rivalry too, which is needed.
-Navy: Weird pick, but it makes sense. Army and Air Force have hockey and so far it has been a winner for both schools. Navy would work because it could serve that DC/Baltimore/Annapolis demographic, which has supported the Capitals for years. If Navy isn’t an option then consider Delaware or even Georgetown.
-Iowa State: The more people you talk to in hockey circles, the more they tell you that this is a winner. Peters, smartest man in junior hockey, made the point that Iowa State would be an ideal choice because of where it sits geographically. He also has researched the subject itself and his findings concluded that it makes sense for Iowa State to add hockey. He pointed out that the schools have donors willing to give money, there’s a growing youth hockey community and the current AD was an assistant AD at Wisconsin and saw first hand how hockey can be a good thing for a school.
-Colorado: To a degree, it is a bit of a surprise that CU does not have hockey. Denver, Colorado College and Air Force are all powers so it would only make sense that the state’s largest school would have it too. Hockey at CU could work and there’s already been a booster working towards a fundraising campaign to get the school to attract hockey. It could take work, but it could be done.
-Oklahoma: OU has the largest budget in the ACHA, the governing body for club hockey teams in the nation. They were up here in Fargo a few months ago and they looked like a D1 team. OU has always been a school to support its teams and hockey would make a lot of sense for the following reasons. No. 1 – The North Texas/Oklahoma market is getting more active in hockey from a youth level so having a college team to feed into that would help. No. 2 – Buddy of mine was telling me how OU had 2,000 fans show up for a game after the football team played a home game. So there is obviously a fan base there. No. 3 – Nothing against UAH, but OU could be the right “Southern” school to get the ball rolling on this because it has a name and maybe others will think it is possible if OU can achieve success.
-Utah: How hockey isn’t in Salt Lake is a mystery to me because that seems like the prime place for hockey to survive. SLC has the feel and look of a hockey town. Make whatever jokes you want about SLC, but know this. They support a team, pro or college. I lived out there for a month and whether its Utah, BYU or the Jazz, they’re adamant about it. They’d have to build a rink, which could get costly, but hockey for Utah could do wonders for the school trying to build its national image.
I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this and what you think would be a good choice for college hockey. This should be a good one.