By @MichaelCaples –
UPDATE (Friday, 5 p.m.) – With a news conference at Northern Michigan, College Hockey Inc. and other representatives formally announced the new feasibility study to help the Wildcats explore the possibility of adding Division 1 women’s hockey to their list of varsity sports.
NHL Vice President Kevin Westgarth, College Hockey Inc. Executive Director Mike Snee and WCHA Women’s Commissioner Katie Million and Northern Michigan Athletic Director Forrest Karr were present for the announcement.
Westgarth: “Adding an NCAA Division I women’s program to the state of Michigan is long overdue, and we are proud to be a part of NMU’s exploration of what would be required to do so. Just by joining NMU in taking this small first step toward a women’s team in Marquette, we hope to inspire and encourage new girls, boys, and parents to join the hockey family.”
Snee: “Northern Michigan has been a vibrant member of the men’s college hockey community and we are excited that their leadership is considering a women’s program. Their addition would be particularly welcome in the state of Michigan, which has produced more than 30 Division I players this year, all of whom have to leave the state to play college hockey.”
Million: “I am thrilled for the initial steps Northern Michigan University is taking to explore adding women’s hockey as a D-I sport. I applaud the vision of NMU President Dr. Fritz Erickson and Athletic Director Forrest Karr, both of whom have a tremendous passion for their student-athletes and a deep appreciation for what college hockey adds to a campus.”
College Hockey Inc. has helped a few NCAA schools conduct feasibility studies in regards to adding Division 1 college hockey programs with funding from the NHL and NHLPA.
For Northern Michigan, the first ‘women’s only’ feasibility study will be conducted, a source close to the situation has told MiHockey.
An official announcement will come tomorrow.
Northern Michigan’s men’s team plays in the WCHA, which also has a women’s college hockey conference, as well.
If the Wildcats were to add Division 1 women’s hockey, NMU would be the only school in Michigan to offer that varsity sport.
Oakland University is in the midst of a feasibility study, analyzing possibilities for both men’s and women’s hockey.
The first feasibility study was announced for the University of Illinois in June of 2017.