By @MichaelCaples –
It’s not what college hockey fans in Illinois were probably hoping for, but it was close.
Just a few hours before the start of the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, the NHL held a press conference to announce a new initiative to help grow college hockey.
With Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman slated to attend the event, it seemed possible that the NHL could be helping college hockey by using the draft’s spotlight to announce a Fighting Illini addition to the Big Ten hockey conference. Instead, Friday’s news is that the league will be conducting assisting with the exploration and implementation of adding college hockey at NCAA universities.
The NHL and the NHLPA will fund feasibility studies exploring the potential of adding NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey programs at five institutions across the United States, and Illinois will be one of the first five schools participating in the study.
Throughout the press conference, it was communicated that it is not only for men’s college hockey, but women’s college hockey as well.
From an Illinois athletic department release:
This feasibility study will analyze the many factors necessary for Illinois to start and maintain a hockey program, including, but not limited to, one-time and annual expenses, funding opportunities, facility needs, Title IX considerations, and community support. Any decisions on the possible addition of hockey will be made at the conclusion of the feasibility study. No deadline has been set for completion of the study.