EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State defeated Ohio State 5-1 at Munn Ice Arena tonight, but that’s not what everyone was talking about afterwards.
In a shocking development, all indications are that Ron Mason, college hockey’s all-time winningest coach, will step down after 23 years behind the bench at Michigan State to become the school’s 16th athletic director.
A news conference will be held Monday at 10:30 a.m. in East Lansing, where, according to a school press release, MSU president Peter McPherson will recommend to the school’s Board of Trustees that Mason become the new athletic director. The current AD, Clarence Underwood, retires on June 30.
Assuming the recommendation goes through, Mason would step down to concentrate on his AD duties.
After the game on Saturday, Mason said he’ll wait until Monday’s press conference to go into further details of his impending promotion, but the mood around Munn Ice Arena seemed to indicate this will be Mason’s final year behind the MSU bench.
“At this point, that’s the way it looks,” Mason told a throng of reporters in his office.
It’s believed Mason delivered the news to his team in the dressing room after the game, which left Spartan players in a state of disbelief.
“Obviously I’m shocked, but I kind of don’t want to think about it right now,” junior winger Brian Maloney said. “I just want to play the year out. I don’t want to think about too much tonight. I’m not too happy about it.”
MSU junior center Troy Ferguson said the news was hard to swallow.
“I’ve got so much on my mind, I’m sure everybody does,” he said. “We’re just going to let it digest and let our thoughts sink in.”
Mason, 63, currently has 916 wins, the most all-time of any coach in collegiate history.
Mason led Michigan State to the 1986 NCAA title and won his 900th career game last October against Ferris State.
Mason said the objective now is to concentrate on this year and a possible second NCAA title for the Spartans.
“Any time that there is a change, certainly it’s not what you consider to be hard,” said Mason. “It’s more of, ‘We’re in this thing together, our team and myself, and we’re going to be in this thing together until the end of the year.’
“I think that’s what I tried to convey to all these guys. We’re going to be here, we’re going to try and win a championship, we’re going to try and be the best hockey team in the country. That’s our goal and nothing else.”