According to a report in the Hartford Courant, Hockey East representatives visited the Connecticut campus and hockey facilities Thursday, further adding speculation to the rumors that UConn may be joining the conference down the road.

“I did have a conversation,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said during an afternoon news conference at the Capitol. “Clearly, the University of Connecticut is contemplating whether they would want to join Hockey East and Hockey East is contemplating whether they would want UConn to join it. They’re on a fact-finding mission to understand how serious UConn may be.”

Per Title IX rules, if UConn were to add 18 men’s hockey scholarships, 18 would have to be added to a women’s program. The women’s hockey team awards scholarships and is already a member of Hockey East.

Also, while games would be played at the XL Center, the Freitas Ice Forum would need a major upgrade, if only for recruiting and practicing.

In December, UConn hired a sports consulting firm to evaluate men’s hockey. The purpose was “to assess the program’s current level of support to that of Atlantic Hockey league members and other programs in the region.”

Connecticut coach Bruce Marshall could not be reached by the Courant on Thursday.

  • ProudUMLAlum

    This seems like the most sensible fit since Notre Dame will be team #11.  UConn women already in H.E.  And the XL Center provides a big enough arena.  No way they could stay in the Frietas Ice Box.  And not to bad of a drive from other H.E. schools.  Campus is awesome..visited many times while in college and was down there for this years Toyota Uconn Hockey Classic, which was won by my UML Riverhawks.  Atlantic Hockey can replace UConn with Alabama Huntsville.  That would be great for UAH too.  Good conf. for them and if they say travel is an issue……how bout Air Force?? UAH is at least closer to the Atlantic!! Hockey East should welcome the Huskies!!

    • AnotherProudUMLAlum

       People will say this is bad for Atlantic Hockey teams, but whenever a school like UConn wants to promote their college hockey program it is good for the sport overall. Adding the UConn alumni base to a serious hockey league would be huge overall. It may be back for Atlantic Hockey short term but long term, but just like Penn State adding a program, this could be huge for the sport

      • ProudUMLAlum

        What I believe NCAA Division I hockey needs is more big time Div I schools to follow Penn State’s lead and work on making a hockey program NCAA Division I viable.  Hopefully if Penn State can survive and prove to be a successful program other schools (regardless of geographic location, but most likely northern schools in “hockey friendly states”) will also attempt to make the jump, from the ACHA Division I level perhaps.  That’s where the most likely additions will come from, alot of ACHA Division I level programs already have the groundwork (arenas, alumni and student support).  I know title IX and money is always an issue, especially with the amount it costs for a hockey program. But large Universities with already strong Division I programs should be able to make it work.  The NCAA should also put more effort into putting Hockey out there marketing wise.  Being on NBC sports network is a step in right direction.  Believe me I’m not living in la-la land thinking that NCAA Hockey will ever be as popular as NCAA B-ball.  That will never happen.  But I really feel that the possibility is there for Div. I College Hockey to be much bigger than it currently is.  They should be able to put all National Tourney games on more than just ESPNU or ESPN3.  Maybe thats in the works down the road.  As much as I love Lowell and being a David (small school) amongst the Goliaths (the biggies, BC, Michigan and so on) in Div. I.  The only way to make NCAA Div. I hockey grow is to get as many Goliaths in as possible.  We need more Penn State’s (size of school…not current reputation).  For example…Syracuse? Illinois? Navy (Army and Air Force are there already)? Pitt? to name a few.  Just an idea… 

        • AnotherProudUMLAlum

           It may never be as big as B-Ball or Football, but those of us who are fans realize how great of a game you get to see at a fraction of the price. I had some friends who a couple years ago had never been to a college hockey game, but they came because the Bruins tickets were just too high. They liked it so much they are considering getting season tickets to Lowell. With some exposure this sport has a lot of room to grow, at least in the northeast and midwest.

          • ProudUMLAlum

            Agreed on all points.  I’ve been a huge college hockey fan since my first day on campus at Lowell.  And it is always such a great product for the price.  And with the importance of every single game you get intense play from game one til the last game of the season.  There is no coasting through portions of the year.  And for what I pay for 3 season tickets (including food and drinks) would end up being maybe one or two Bruins games for the year.  Don’t get me wrong I love my Pro sports and have Pats season tix.  But with the options of spending thousands more on NHL or hundreds on UML I would much rather put my few extra bucks towards more in person hockey and also support the program of my alma mater and college hockey as a whole.  Not to mention my time at the school was one of the best experiences of my life and gave me such great memories and friendships that I enjoy coming back and seeing how much it has grown from year to year.

        • Joe C

          If you are limiting it just to Hockey East and NBC Sports Network, then I think you are not casting a wide enough net. Remember that the Big Ten Network will also have lots more hockey, as will the NCHC with CBS Sports, if I remember correctly.

          That is three premier leagues on three “national” networks if you have a higher-tier package on cable/satelite. When there is college hockey available, I generally watch it. I watched more college hockey than college basketball this year. The regular season and the league tournaments being available “nationally” is the next step to grow interest.

          The coverage of the NCAA tournament on ESPN will not grow the sport as much as the coverage of the three big leagues with the big names. The other coverage that comes from the three big leagues will help to combat the limited coverage of CHL on NHL Network, which is college hockey’s competition for recruits and viewers.

          Pittsburgh and Syracuse would join Hockey East if they were to start programs. Columbia and Penn would be in ECAC. Navy would be in AHA with AF/Army, which is why AF is not going to the WCHA. Any Big Ten schools starting a program would have no choice but to be in the BTHC. 

          • ProudUMLAlum

            Not trying to limit it to hockey east at all.  I just picked a few points to get my idea out there.  CBS is great and BTN will also be a huge step forward for College Hockey as a whole.  My view is really to grow the sport across the board regardless of conference.  I also watched way more College Hockey than B-Ball.  I really don’t pay much attention till the Final Four bracket comes out.  Regular season is as boring as NBA regular season.  Where any College Hockey game you watch at whatever point always seems to have more weight behind it.  As far as naming schools that could try for DI just sort of pulled them out of the air. 

          • Joe C

            I hope to see more of BU and Lowell on my television next year. Part of the reason it has not developed more is that hockey overall is a niche sport without complete national coverage, with crazy blackouts and watching games on the internet.

            While we both agree that it will never be as big as NCAA hoops, there are plenty of NHL games with huge crowds, events like the Frozen Four do really well (except at football stadiums and 1,000 miles away from the nearest “brand name” program).

            The programs you brought up are reasonable. I hope the Big 10 steps up to the plate, especially in the women’s game. I would love to see ACC/PAC-12 schools thinking about it, too. That would make it national. (Pitt/Syracuse are ACC now)

          • Decatur Spartan.

             I think that the B10 network showed U.Michigan games around 75% of the time this past season. A um grad is hig up in the network.

        • Decatur Spartan.

           The NCAA will never promote Ice Hockey. Example: the contract they signed with ESPN.

        • WMUBroncoAlumnus02

          I’m a huge college hockey fan and while I would love to see the game expand I just don’t know how realistic that would be during these economic times.  Remember, Penn State is adding hockey because they received and $80 million dollar donation that was specifically earmarked for hockey.  I’m a lifelong Illinois resident and I think that Illinois, for example, would be an excellent place to add a D1 program.  The problem is that  U of I is a public university in a state that has over an $8 billion dollar budget deficit.  I just don’t know how you could justify to the taxpayers spending the money that it would require to start-up a program when education is being underfunded and public employees are losing their benefits and pensions.  I know that not every state is in as bad of shape as Illinois, but I imagine that it would still be a tough sell elsewhere.  You really would need a situation like Penn State where the program would be privately funded or perhaps a private university with a large enough endowment (maybe Northwestern?).  

      • ritalum

        Bad for AHA? UConn only dragged our PWR down. We’d probably be better off with UAH.

  • Yooperhokey

    But who is going to be the number ten team in the New WCHA?

    • Robert8_fun

      The University of Alabama-Huntsville.

      • Guess

        My guess is Minnesota State or BSU

        • Beaver4life

          Mankato and Bemidji are already in the WCHA

          • Guess

            They were refering to the new WCHA and they are not part of that…  Read the full post.

          • Beaver4life

            Umm……Bemidji and Mankato are very much in the “new” WCHA.  That has never been a question or a point of discussion otherwise. 

        • Kroger

          Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota

    • Josephcrowley28

      A nine-team conference is fine for conference play. Hockey East had that situation until UVM became the 10th team.

      For the new WCHA, there will be plenty of opportunities with the NCHC and BTHC teams. The BTHC especially will need games to fill in during its conference play, since it will only have 6 teams.

      • lakes19

        Each Big Ten school will have to find 14 Non Conference games to round out the schedules.

        • Bazinga

          Now maybe the will have to actually play non-conference road games.

          • lakes19

            That makes no sense….  Every school plays not conference road series…  Get your facts straight

  • Kroger

    It’d probably be ultimately good for HE and UConn. But again, conferences seem to be gravitating towards big schools only in major conferences. Not that Atlantic Hockey revolves around UConn or anything, but I almost feel 10 years down the line these Atlantic Hockey teams may start to disappear.

    • Joe C

      This is a different situation. Making the jump from a non-scholarship league to a scholarship league means a program has gotten bigger. AHA is an excellent feeder system for programs, especially D-III schools looking to make the leap to D-I.

      Having a “big-name” playing at a non-scholarship level brings very little to a league.

      • Kroger

        I understand this, but the AHA already struggles competitively and attendance wise. As hockey begins to gravitate towards big schools, it could be good with attracting new viewers, but I think the AHA will struggle to remain a league. It’s probably a poor example, but look at CC. When small schools don’t get left behind, they can flourish, but when they get left alone, such as the CHA, the league will dissipate and programs will fold, which I’m sure everyone hates to see.

  • bluetell

    Always good to see a big time athletic department looking to add or step their hockey program. I’ve always been confused why a big school like UConn has a hockey team but is content to let them flounder at the bottom of AH

  • Joe C

    I wonder where all the naysayers are now that thought that UConn Men’s Hockey coming to Hockey East was non-sensical.

    Many people, myself included posted that UConn made the most sense of the existing programs as the 12th Hockey East program. The Cliff’s Notes Version:
    1) It is a public University in New England. It would join Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts-Amherst and Massachusetts-Lowell.
    2) UConn Women play in Hockey East (and we hope Merrimack will add a women’s program)
    3) Hartford is a large television market.
    4) UConn has a large student body, large alumni base and name recognition.
    5) UConn plays “Olympic” sports in the Big East, just like Notre Dame.
    6) There are rivalries to renew and rivalries to begin.
    7) In the short-term as stated in the article, games could be played at the XL (Hartford Civic Center)
    8) The XL could be added to the rotation of regional sites with UConn as host.

    • Guest

      There is no “Massachusetts-Amherst”….

      • Joe C

        According to the home page of the University of Massachusetts, the name they give themselves is UMASS Amherst. There is a picture of the Minuteman logo. They are the flagship campus of the entire University of Massachusetts system.

        The same thing is true of the University of Maine-Orono, but since no other campus has D-I Hockey, it is fine to shorten it. I sometimes write Amherst out of respect to Lowell.

        UMass, UMass-Amherst and Massachuets-Amherst are all interchangeable for the purposes of a hockey blog.

        • Guest2

          you’re wound too tight buddy

          • Joe C

            It is all fun on the interwebs. As someone that spent a good amount of time in the U-Maine system, (Southern Maine), I fondly remember UMO before it got all fancy, especially when they got mad about hearing UMZero.

            It still will be good to have UConn join if they get their act together.

        • …except that the University of Maine’s official name is now just the University of Maine.

  • Badger Bill

    I like the idea of UConn moved to the HEA and having them play at the XL Center. Hopefully UConn will draw more fans then Ohio State does for this big building.

    But it does leave the AHA with an odd number of teams. Does anybody think it would make travel sense to ask Air Force to join the WCHA ?

  • terrier1976

    I like this from a fan’s perspective, since it means I will be able to see both Hockey East and ECAC games without having to travel very far. I just hope the ticket prices are reasonable. Yale tickets were $10-$14 this season, Quinnipiac’s were slightly higher (both with free parking) but still not like the $26 plus parking that they charge at BU.  As a taxpayer I fear that my state taxes will be raised to pay for scholarships and maybe a new arena down the road.  But at least it will be for something I will go to see, unlike their basketball and football games.

    • lakes19

      Being a Minnesota Gopher fan your tickets are cheap.  We pay $35 a game for the so call lower tier teams in WCHA and $40 a game for upper tier teams in WCHA, not including parking $8-$15..

      Now starting next year our outgoing A.D. Joel Maturi is taking away all season tickets and re-issuing them on the basis of past donations to the University, how long you have had your tickets and a upfront premium now of between $1000 & $2000 to retain your season tickets.

      Take it from us in the WCHA, Connecticut would be a very good addition to Hockey East.  It adds more revenue to the conference.

      • ritalum

        And here I thought $10 and free parking for an RIT game was getting pricey.

  • hockeyma23

    They would have to get a real coach.  One that actually leaves the campus to recruit.

    • Topperinsc

      god I was hoping someone else would post this. Marshall is a “richard” Coming out of HS I had a visit arranged by my coach with Marshall and he flat out said, “why would I come to VT to recruit when I can get all I need here in CT?” Needless to say it was  aquick meeting as I got up and left. Ended up going to another school in ECAC East as UCONN was still D3 then and ended up playing them down there, smoked them 11-4 had 2 goals and 3 assists, I soooo wanted to flip him the puck after the first goal. Only reason he’s able to recruit outside CT now is because they’re D1 and he gets the leftovers that ECAC and HEA doesn’t want. They will be  a doormat with him at the helm in HEA

  • Blueline892910

    UConn to join HEA would have to make big changes…they have NO interest in their Hockey Program…it’s Mens/Womens B-Ball and to a extent now the FB Program. They would need a Building like Quinnipiac(around 3,500)and that is NOT going to happen anytime soon….UConn Hockey is a Bad Idea for HEA at this time,would take a good 5 years to get this Program/Arena going and there’s a big chance that this has FAILURE written all over it…imo. HEA should be looking at RPI and to some extent Quinnipiac….PLUS whats to keep Notre Dame in the League 5 years down the line…could be the addition of ND may come back later and bite HEA. With all the changes coming to the College Hockey Conferences after next season,it will be 3-4 years before there’s any sense if the Direction of CH is moving forward.

    • Guest

      Notre Dame is a bad idea for HEA.  In time that will become apaprent.  HEA is THE prenier conference in college hockey and we don’t need ND to expand our recruiting base or our national tv footprint.

      • Joe C

        20 years ago, Hockey East was just being formed and NESN was a couple of years from being launched. There was a single ESPN channel. The only hockey on TV was the NHL, except for the Beanpot and random NCAA games.

        Today, NESN has a weekly HE game, the Beanpot, a first-round HE quarterfinal and the weekend at the Garden. Hockey East won multiple NCAA titles (BC 3, BU and Maine 2) with lots of Frozen Four appearances and NCAA invites. There are now 10 teams, soon to be 11 with Notre Dame.

        I do not know how long Notre Dame will stay in Hockey East, but I strongly believe it will at least 20 years. This is a good relationship to have. NBC Sports Network will put more games on television as the primary programming for that slot. No cutting away to lacrosse or poker, no commitments to the NBA or the NFL. Notre Dame will bring NEW casual fans to watch Hockey East teams. This exposure is the reason Notre Dame and Hockey East will do well together.

    • Guest

      As for UCONN also a poor fit for many reasons.  What makes HEA unique is that hockey is the  #1 sport for each school.  BB and FB are 1-2 at Uconn, they will not get fan support.

      I like Quinipiac because they are committed to hockey, new arena, and a new England school.  Maybe they need to up the scholarships, I don’t know, but I like that team and program and their arena as well.

  • Doeas anyone have any idea how much it costs to get a D! hockey program going? How much would it take to build a 5K seat stadium on the UConn campus? I would love to know the ballpark answers to these questions. Would UConn rely on endowments (ala Terry Pegula at Penn  St) ? Otherwise, what means do they have to pay for this.

    • Freddie

      Building: 30-80m, depending on how many sheets of ice, and how fancy.
      Annual budget: 1.2 to 2.5m, depending on coaches salaries and travel
      Bottom line: without a substantial endowment, or a firm long-time committment from the school, chances for survilal are slim.
      On the other hand, a well run ice arena (especially with multiple sheets of ice) can become a profit center; IF (and this is a BIG ‘if’) it’s well laid out and professionally managed.

  • Spanky

    UCONN to Hockey East and Air Force to new WCHA. UAH folds like it should. Now every conference has an even number of teams. done.

    • ritalum

      Except AHA?

  • Terrier_Fan_From_CT

    If Hartford was such a great television and hockey market the Whalers would have never left.  CT and Hartford is all about UCONN basketball.  How many students are going to head into Hartford to watch hockey in a 14,000 seat arena?  I’m sorry if playing at “The Mall” is UCONN’s best play then the answer should be a resounding “No Thanks” from the Hockey East schools.  If UCONN could build a reasonable on campus facility with ~3600 seats then they’d be a good fit.  I don’t think BU-BC could fill 14,000 seats for a regular season match-up…Please no Mall.  The state of CT has been using UCONN sports for years now in an attempt to save Hartford.  Hockey won’t help.

    • You know nothing about the Whalers

  • Celticjoe

    Holy Cross made more sens there is just no interest at U Conn as far as funding a Tier 1 level program.The Alumni need to step up if they are serious.

  • Azvance

    We need teams in the Dallas area and California for further exposure in large markets

  • Conn Guy

    Can’t wait to see UCONN- Storrs in HE!  As an alum and huge hockey fan, it makes me happy to think that hockey will be on as big a stage as football and hoops. 

  • UofMaine has been officially called Uof Maine since 1986, a name change that came after the Maine system made it Uof Maine at Orono.

    This is very commong for the flagship campus to not have the city used even though it is part of the official name. In Maine’s case it was removed from the official campus name.

    Michigan is the same way. California is officially the University of California Berkley, but they are refered to just as Cal. Same with Wisconsin-Madison. We know them just as Wisconsin, but they are official Wisconsin at Madison.

    As for adding UConn to HE. The one school I think that would have to be pushing for this is UAH. It would open a spot in Atlantic Hockey for uAH which might be what is needed to save the program. I don’t see them surviving independent much longer.

  • As for the idea of expanding hockey. The NCAA may have shot themselves in the foot in that regard a couple years ago when they changed the rules for DII schools. Every non-DI school currently playing Hockey is grandfathered in. No additional DII or DIII school can add hockey and play at the DI level under the latest NCAA rules. If a non-DI school wanted to add DI hockey the entire athletic department would need to move up. In addition, if a DI playing DII program dropped their program for 12 consecutive months they could not return to DI.

    There are several DII’s that have previously had, or could eventually consider having hockey as a Varsity sport, that now would not be able to. One I can think of right now is Grand Valley State University. GVSU recently added women’s lacrosse and speculation was that they could be making a push to add hockey in the future. Now that would require them to play DII hockey (which for basic purposes doesn’t exist).

    Wayne State had hockey in the past, and could have considered rebuilding the program if things in Detroit and Michigan every get straightened out, but now that won’t happen.

    I think if DI hockey is going to expand it will have to come from DI school that previously offered the sport. From the CCHA you had UIC, Kent State, St. Louis and Ohio U. From Atlatnic Hockey you had Iona and Fairfield. Penn used to have a team in the ECAC.

    Other former college programs that could potentially be returned include: Illinois (would be Big Ten), Syracuse, Villanova (both likely would be Hockey East).

    There isn’t a lot to draw from when it comes to adding hockey at programs with experience (even long ago) with the sport. The only other experienced DI programs were US International, which no longer offers athletics, and N. Arizona University, which is a terrible geographic fit for hockey, but if they wanted to could add hockey likely in the WCHA or NCHC.

    Looking at the list of schools not offering hockey, I can only see a few that honestly would look viable from the DI level. Colorado and Colorado St are bigger name athletic programs competing either in a top level or high mid-major conference. Nebraska could consider hockey as well, considering the close affiliation with UNO, which recently has gotten closer. The school I never understood not having hockey was NDSU. Buffalo is another programs I could see adding  (or returning the sport).
    Washington, given its location might be a good school as well. Since Seattle doesn’t have a hockey franchise they could be a good school, but would likely need other Pac 12 schools to add the sport, something I don’t see happening.

    I really don’t see a ton of programs willing to invest the money in a hockey program.

  • MonomoyPondHockey

    a 12th team is key and UConn may be a decent choice but is a new cellar dwellar good for the league or should they poach a solid established program from the ECAC?