According to the Union Leader out of New Hampshire, dozens of student-athletes peacefully protested potential changes to the St. Anselm hockey teams’ future conference affiliation during the school’s groundbreaking ceremony for a new student center on Thursday.
Currently, the men’s team plays against both NCAA Division II and Division III teams. The Hawks are scheduled to play 25 regular-season games this season, including contests in the NEHC, a conference of mostly Division III schools with 10 men’s members and 14 women’s members.
The college’s contract with the NEHC has not been renewed for next year, according to the protesters. It’s unclear whether that’s because of the Hawks’ continued Division II status, which it confirmed last May after previously announcing an intent to move to Division III.
School officials did not comment to the Union Leader.
“This essentially takes the competitiveness out of our team,” said men’s senior C.J. Blaszka to the paper. “We are not out here to make a stink. We want to save our programs. We will do what it takes to get at the table.”
The St. Anselm women’s team may also be affected by the potential changes, according to senior Savannah Poole.
“We may not even have a league at all next year,” Poole said in the report. “The NEHC wants to be strictly a Division III conference next year.”