BOSTON — One of Massachusetts’ two state-funded Division I hockey programs could soon be privatized; if Massachusetts’ new governor, Mitt Romney, has his way.
As part of an overwhelming state restructuring plan that Romney will institute in hopes to pull the state from extreme debt, he unveiled Wednesday a plan that would privatize the state’s main campus in Amherst and its medical school in Worcester. Meanwhile, the state’s other three campuses — in Lowell, Dartmouth and Boston — would be pushed to work in association with the state’s smaller public colleges.
The Amherst campus is home to the Massachusetts hockey team, a Division I Hockey East program that revived itself in 1995 after a long absence. The Lowell campus is home to Massachusetts-Lowell, a program that began as a club program in 1961, elevated to Division II in 1966 before finally moving to Division I in 1985.
“We are bringing some much needed scrutiny to the way we deliver higher education,” Romney spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom told the Associated Press. “The current hodgepodge of 29 separate campuses has grown over time without any rational thought.”
As part of the move, current university president William Bulger, a former president of the Massachusetts Senate, would be removed from his position. The Chancellors at the three remaining university campuses would become President.
There is no immediate indication of how athletics, particularly the hockey programs, at the schools will be impacted. UMass athletic director Ian McCaw, who also serves as Chair of the NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Committee, was unable to be reached for comment this afternoon.
The announcement comes less than a year after rumors surfaced of a proposed merger of the UMass and UMass-Lowell hockey programs. Though the original intent was to curb costs by consolidating the two hockey programs, the move was quickly squashed by state administration.