The University of Findlay plans to elevate its three-year-old men’s hockey team to Division I, and to add a D-I women’s program for the 1999-2000 season, the school announced Wednesday.
The men’s team could be eligible for D-I play in the 2001-02 season, prior to which a scheduling alliance with Army, Air Force, Niagara, Bemidji State and Alabama-Huntsville is anticipated. The women’s team is hoping for membership in the Central Collegiate Women’s Hockey Association, although that league is primarily composed of club teams.
“The success of the men’s hockey program over the past three years has been phenomenal,” Findlay athletic director Mary Beth Kennedy said. “The positive financial impact of the athletic department and the university has certainly contributed to this decision, as well as the opportunity to attract institutions like Army and Air Force to the UF campus.”
One reason for Findlay’s move is that most of the nation’s Division II programs — including perennial powers Bemidji and Alabama-Huntsville — have moved or are planning moves to Division I status. Consequently, the D-II national championship is in jeopardy, and could be eliminated shortly.
Findlay competes in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which does not sanction hockey; but four members — Lake Superior State, Ferris State, Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan — have Division I hockey programs, and a fifth, Mercyhurst, is in the process of moving up to D-I.
Both hockey teams will compete in the Clauss Ice Arena, which is slated for completion in early 1999.