ECAC Regular-Season TV Package Scrapped

College hockey fans hoping to catch an ECAC hockey game on TV during the regular season will be searching in vain.

The conference has dropped plans to have a regular-season TV package this season. The ECAC tournament semifinals and championship game will still be televised.

Economics was cited as the main reason for the decision. ECAC associate commissioner Steve Hagwell said it cost the conference $20,000 per game to produce a telecast. With an 11-game package, that’s $220,000, and the ECAC wasn’t generating much revenue from those games.

“We’ve got to find ways to generate more revenue before we can start thinking about doing some TV games,” Union coach Kevin Sneddon said. “They’re obviously very expensive to put on. It’s disappointing not to get league games on. We’ve got to look to find ways to build our corporate sponsorships so that we can have a good TV package in the future.”

But with the economy in a state of flux, especially after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, corporations are being cautious in their spending.

“We didn’t lose a lot of money,” Hagwell said. “It cost a lot of money for us to produce it. Given some of the current scenarios, economically, with sponsorships, and just the increasing cost of television, it takes a pretty large chunk of our budget.”

Two years ago, the ECAC coaches were upset after the conference failed to buy an advertisement in The Hockey News’ college hockey special section. It led to an infamous suggestion by St. Lawrence coach Joe Marsh that the conference should have a bottle drive to raise the money.

This time, however, there’s more of an understanding with the TV situation.

“Obviously, we like to have one,” Clarkson coach Mark Morris said. “I know we’ve explored a number of different options. But there has to be a way. To be associated with the Ivy League, and the quality of hockey that’s played in our league, it would be great if someone would step forward and help us out.”

But the lack of TV exposure will hurt the conference, especially when other leagues like Hockey East and the CCHA have regular-season TV packages.

“It affects recruiting, and it affects the perception of your league,” Morris said. “People who watch our league on a regular basis know the quality of hockey that we play in our league. Sometimes, we don’t get our just due when it comes down to people realizing what our league is all about.”

Ken Schott covers college hockey for The Daily Gazette of Schenectady, N.Y.