Following a unanimous recommendation from its planning committee, the University of Wisconsin athletic board voted to add women’s ice hockey as a varsity sport beginning in 1999-2000, athletic director Pat Richter announced Friday.
“Ice hockey was a preeminent thought even before the success of the United States women’s ice hockey team at the Olympics,” Richter said of the decision. “After the success of that team, the choice became even more obvious.
“It seemed to fit in with our sport portfolio. With the presence of the men’s team, the facilities, the equipment, we already have a lot of familiarity with the sport.”
Richter indicated that the search for a head coach will commence immediately, with hiring planned for this summer.
As many as 10 different sports-interest groups were represented at public hearings held by the university to help decide which women’s sport to add; the committee narrowed the choices to water polo, ice hockey and lacrosse after additional research. In choosing hockey, the board was encouraged by the success of the first-year team at the University of Minnesota, as well as by the rapid growth of the sport nationally.
The new team is expected to play its home games at either the Kohl Center or the Dane County Coliseum. Scholarships will be phased in incrementally, up to the full NCAA complement of 18.