In a move that could have significant positive impact on Massachusetts-Lowell’s hockey program, the university will appoint Martin T. Meehan chancellor for the Lowell campus, according to a report in the Boston Globe.
Meehan, a U.S. Congressman representing the Lowell area since 1992, has, according to Lowell head coach Blaise MacDonald, been a “strong supporter” of Massachusetts-Lowell’s hockey program.
His appointment comes just weeks after it became public that the university’s Board of Trustees will form a task force to examine Lowell’s membership in Hockey East.
According to the Globe, Jack M. Wilson, president of the University of Massachusetts system, recommended Meehan to the Board of Trustees. The Trustees will vote on his candidacy on Wednesday but the Globe notes that in the past the 19-member board has largely followed the recommendations of the president.
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Stephen Tocco, recently made public the board’s review of Lowell’s league membership. Tocco told the Lowell Sun that the goal of this review process is to “bring people into the [Tsongas Arena], get people excited and bring a national championship.”
In an interview last week, MacDonald made clear that dropping Lowell’s program altogether is not an option for the task force.
Previously called the University of Lowell, the school competed in Division II for a number of years, winning three national championships in four years from 1979 to 1982, before stepping up to Division I and joining Hockey East in 1984-85. (It became the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in 1991.)
Recent success for UML hockey has been limited. After appearing in three NCAA tournaments from 1988 to 1996, the River Hawks have not been back to the national tourney, despite two 20-win seasons under MacDonald, who just completed his sixth season leading the team.
UML finished this year’s campaign 8-21-7 overall and 7-16-4 in Hockey East and failed to make the Hockey East playoffs.