Arizona State gets $32 million donation to launch varsity men’s team

Arizona State on Tuesday announced plans to launch a Division I men’s team over the next three seasons.

The addition will give Division I men’s hockey 60 teams and a presence in the far southwest part of the country not seen since the 1980s.

A $32 million donation from an anonymous donor and Don Mullett, the father of a former Arizona State club hockey player, made the move possible, athletic director Ray Anderson said at a news conference on the Tempe, Ariz., campus on Tuesday.

Club team coach Greg Powers, who led the Sun Devils to a 2014 ACHA national championship, will be the first coach of the school’s varsity program. A full-time home for the program hasn’t been announced, but ESPN’s John Buccigross tweeted that there was a high likelihood the team would play at US Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.

Arizona State will be the first Division I men’s team in Arizona since Northern Arizona dropped its program in 1986. The Lumberjacks were a part of the Great West Hockey Conference with Alaska-Fairbanks, Alaska-Anchorage and U.S. International in the 1980s.

The school is a member of the Pac-12, one of the conferences with its own TV network. That league has been the target of expansion talks in college hockey for many years.

More to come.

34 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting to see what conference they go to. NCHC would be obvious favorite, but I wonder if the B1G might try to make a play for them as an associate member due to the B1G/PAC 12 relationship and obvious media market.

    • During the expansion for the B1G, all the talk was that a future team HAD to be with the B1G for all sports. I don’t think they go there. ASU has NCHC written all over it and I, for one, am pumped about it.

      • Johns Hopkins is an associate member for lacrosse. As for recruiting a kid takes a trip to see Canisus, Mercyhurst and RIT this week. Next week he goes to ASU, that weather will factor in some high level talent landing at ASU. I do believe that the B1G will make a play for ASU.

        • I’m lost on the high level talent talk. Why would a high level talent be going to see Canisus, Mercyhurst and RIT? I don’t disagree that ASU’s weather will help them recruit, but I still don’t think a kid who grew up in ND or MN or WI his whole life being swayed by weather. Maybe a few times, but on the whole, not many.

          • Danny Irmen and Ryan Potulny would beg to differ. Those names ring a bell? So would Keaton Thompson, Luke Johnson, Johnny Simonson and Paul LaDue (all on UND’s current roster and 5 of which are NHL draft picks). Awwww cute… look at the Goofer fan trying to be clever. Hey, buddy, know how many Minnesotans are on the UND roster? 7. How many of those are from East Grand Forks, being UND fans their whole life, right across the border? 2. What’s your point, anyway? Look at you trying to troll. Blah, blah, blah, they have Canadians… blah, blah, blah, blah…. they don’t have anyone from their own state…. WHO CARES??? What does this have to do with building a championship hockey team? It’s such a STUPID point. SO WHAT if we have Canadians? Why. Does. It. Matter. At. All? It doesn’t and you just look stupid. Quit being a wiener.

          • LOL… Are you mad bro? Obviously a tongue and cheek statement Scott… I knew ND fans were touchy but this is the first time I’ve been called a wiener since the 3rd grade. North Dakota has a heck of a team and is an outstanding educational facility… ha. For your reference: Active NHL Hockey Players: MN 36, MI 27, WI 11, ND 2….

          • It’s just such an annoying complex that Gopher fans have. Having a majority of your recruits come from a metropolis area says NOTHING special about your program. I’m not “mad” and I’m not your bro, brah. For your reference: ND population — 723,393; MN population — 5,303,925.

          • Don’t forget Ryan’s older brother Grant who scored the game winning goal in OT against Maine in the 2002 championship game. I appreciate ND players that play for MN.

        • Also, Johns Hopkins doesn’t play elite level sports like football and basketball like ASU does. ASU is in one of the most storied conferences in the country in the PAC-12. I just don’t see the B1G going after them.

      • Big 10 wants Maryland, Rutgers, Northwestern and Illinois.

        I would love to see Purdue just for the uniforms and the train whistle when they score goals.

        Big 10 would also want the PAC-12 become autoberth, so they could have interlocking regular season/challenge with natural out of conference rivals and travel partners.

        Speaking of Big 10, when do Michigan and Michigan State field D-I women’s teams?

    • Always nice to see expansion in D1 college hockey. I’m sure ASU has the dollars to fund a D1 team, but will they have the following, or the recruits. Blue chip players like exposure and that will be limited there.

      • A lot of recruits have been out of Cali and down in that area. And what kid wouldnt want to go to AZ for school with that kind of weather?

      • Why would blue chipper’s not get exposure? Where do you think NHL scouts would rather travel to watch games in the middle of winter; Grand Forks, ND or Tempe, AZ?

        • NHL scouts go wherever the talent is. For the immediate future (5-10 years), GFK will have WAY bigger exposure for a kid wanting to play pro. That could change a bit after ASU develops, but, I don’t see a scenario of cold weather teams like UND, UM, Wisconsin, etc., really being hurt that much. Just because the weather is warm, doesn’t mean a kid will develop better at ASU. The facilities will take awhile to develop, the team won’t be great for at least 5 years and they don’t any tradition of any sorts compared to the other schools. I’m pumped for ASU. The expansion of our game is a great thing.

          • No disrespect intended to any teams you’d noted and not suggesting they’d get “hurt” at all. Just pointing out that it won’t be a stretch for pro scouts to add Tempe, AZ to the list of stops to make over the winter. Hence it’s naive to think kids headed there won’t get plenty of pro scouting exposure. Last I checked, there’s a major airport in town and 5 NHL teams within a 1.5 hour flight. Plus there’s over 200 golf courses that are open during the hockey season. (Only thing most pro scouts love more than standing around a cold arena watching hockey is standing on a putting green chripin’ about hockey). The travel requests are probably already hitting every Scouting Director’s inbox.

    • They may not land the top of the top tier recruits but they will probably end up with better classes then you think based off of the location and weather.

    • The Big Ten has referenced looking at ‘associate’ members as well but I don’t think ASU fits that. Just massively far away from everyone else in the conference. I agree with others saying that they are a perfect fit for the NCHC

      • Or WCHA before Big 10.

        More likely, trying to get Arizona, UCLA, USC, Oregon and Oregon State. Getting to six means autoberth. Travel already happens between these schools in all other sports. I could also see Cal, Stanford, Washington and Washington State, along with Utah. Colorado is the one school that would struggle to compete with DU and CC.

        ASU uniforms would be sweet! And imagine what Phil Knight would do with Oregon uniforms!!!

  2. They won’t get blue chippers because of the weather. Blue chip recruits go where they can best improve their game. $$$ And schools won’t be tripping over themselves to schedule a trip there for the sun, either. Unless ASU is footing the bill. Schools are looking for short bus rides for away games, not long plane rides. $$$

    • We have multitudes of snowbirds who summer in Northern Minnesota and the Red River Valley who grew up playing/watching hockey, loved it then and miss it now. You underestimate us oldies!

      • But is there enough to support college hockey in Arizona? I live in Buffalo, a huge hockey town and one of the best television markets for hockey no matter who is playing. We have two DI teams here who have had marginal success but get minimal support from local hockey fans. Granted there is tons of hockey to compete with in this area, namely the Sabres. But if college hockey has a hard time here…
        How does ASU draw now as a club team?

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