Question/Rant - Large schools with no DI/III programs
I used to be a football fan but get more and more turned off every year given I'm in Texas and the past few years have now spawned dedicated ESPN like media coverage on the high school level, following these kids up through college. It's overkill now.
I've been in TX long enough to see the Stars help influence the creation of several public rinks, local leagues, high school teams and now some of these kids being drafted by NHL teams. (I believe the Sharks and Ducks probably have had a similar effect in CA).
I've seen TX colleges form teams, but none that were backed to DI or DIII level. Several have been nearly entirely student supported and been classified as a club but not seen as an official team of the school.
It angers me to see so much fuss over football programs and wanting to keep those players in state, but hockey players? We have no choice but to lose them to an out of state program because there isn't anything here for them to showcase their talent or get them a decent scholarship.
I don't understand the NCAA or get to watch college hockey much (couldn't tell you who plays where), but has there been any talk or movements to expand college hockey in the future? Or is this how it will always be? Large states with big money schools such as TX & CA, but no movement towards taking the next step?
Football's significantly more popular then hockey in the United States, and that's especially true in Texas. Not to mention that football, along with basketball, is one of the two consistent money makers nationally in the NCAA that props up every other program, so it's really not surprising that most schools (especially southern schools) don't want to take a risk on an expensive sport like hockey whose appeal is an unknown quantity at best.
That's all there is to it.
As for expansion... yes, there have been talks, but it's pretty much exclusively about schools in the Northeast and Midwest. We're seeing Penn State and Minnesota State-Moorhead both developing varsity hockey programs in the next couple years, and rumors pop up every now and then about other schools, like Illinois, but not sure how much traction those really have. However, these also have to be weighed against the potential for the Big Ten and NCHC pushing out some of the teams left in the soon to be merged WCHA/CCHA to the brink, so honestly can't tell if we could expect to see the number of varsity programs increasing or decreasing overall in the next decade or so.
It'd be nice to see collegiate hockey growth in the South and West.... but not betting on it happening any time soon, and even then I'd have to guess that schools in the West would be more prone to creating varsity hockey programs then teams in the South.
ACHA or bust probably for the foreseeable future for those areas.
Last edited by No Fun Shogun: 02-18-2012 at 05:18 AM.
No Fun has it right. A school won't do it unless they can make money (or get a big fat check handed to them). Texas, Florida, and California are all emerging hockey cultures, but there are a lot of challenges to getting a D1 team. There will be high travel costs (not exactly next door to other hockey schools), most likely new arenas, Title IX, and a questionable customer base. No school will do it in this economy unless there is a reasonable shot at making money or breaking even. Either that or it's just SO ingrained into the culture. The best that most states can do for now is to grow hockey at the base and just continue to spread the word. Schools will very slowly catch on. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I believe prior to Penn State adding a team, it's been over a decade since the last new D1 hockey program was added...
In the mean time, I like to watch the progress of the ACHA as almost like a grassroots way of testing the market. Sure it's club (or non-varsity as they prefer), but it's a good way of laying the foundation for college hockey. They have their own challenges as most have varying skill levels and small ice rinks that make it tough to build a following. But some are lucky, like University of Arizona. According to their website, they get over 3,000 fans a game.