North Dakota to cut women’s hockey

07 Oct 16:  Amy Menke (North Dakota - 21).  The St. Cloud State University Huskies host the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks in a WCHA matchup at the National Hockey Center in St. Cloud, MN. (Jim Rosvold/USCHO.com)
07 Oct 16: Amy Menke (North Dakota – 21). Menke led North Dakota in scoring in 2016-17 as a senior . (Jim Rosvold/USCHO.com)

After weeks of speculation, the University of North Dakota announced today that it is cutting the women’s hockey program as part of an effort to meet new budget restrictions, which was widely reported to be a $1.3 million shortfall. Also cut were men’s and women’s swimming and diving.

According to multiple reports, North Dakota did not tell the players in advance before the news started to leak, and North Dakota had a potential recruit visiting the school the day of the announcement. University of North Dakota Athletic Director Brian Faison requested a meeting with the women’s team at 2:45 CDT, at which time he informed the players of the decision. According to a formal statement, UND will honor all athletic scholarships for the discontinued sports “at their present equivalencies for returning student-athletes. Specific details have been provided to the student-athletes regarding their future aid.”

The official statement from North Dakota says the decision is effective at the end of the current academic year.

In its statement, UND wrote that part of this is driven by the need to raise additional money for scholarships to meet the minimum levels in the Summit League, to which many UND sports are moving.

“UND expects that the current changes will enable it to meet those additional scholarship expenses without having to make further cuts next year. UND’s athletics department expects to reinvest any additional savings back into its women’s and men’s teams, with a primary focus on gender equity, internal equity, and championship competitiveness.”

Eight current and former North Dakota players were on Olympic rosters at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, playing for the U.S., Finland, and Germany.

North Dakota compiled a 16-16-6- overall record in the most recent season, bowing out to Wisconsin in the Final Face-Off semifinals, 2-1.

The WCHA has been reduced to seven teams for next year. The league responded to North Dakota’s announcement with a formal statement from Women’s League Commissioner Katie Million.

” Today’s developments are excruciatingly sad for the University of North Dakota, the WCHA and the sport of women’s hockey. While we understand the significant, state-mandated budget cuts faced by the entire University and respect the decision-making process of the UND administration, there is no denying the impact of losing a program that has produced Olympians, advanced to NCAA tournaments and is a perennial fixture in the national rankings. Our collective hearts ache for North Dakota’s current and incoming student-athletes, for the school’s alumnae and fans, for head coach Brian Idalski and his entire staff, and all involved with the program.

“The WCHA is the premier conference in women’s college hockey, and we are dedicated to ensuring it remains so – both now and well into the future. The WCHA League Office, along with our member institutions, will immediately begin the process of evaluating appropriate actions needed to remedy impacts of this decision on the 2017-18 season, while also exploring our long-term options.”

109 COMMENTS

  1. Seriously? I understand the budget problems at UND, but for a supposed “hockey school” to cut women’s hockey is outrageous. Brian Faison should be embarrassed.

    • Especially since it leaked while the players were on the ice practicing, and while the team had a player who came to the school today on a recruitment visit. And the program had 8 players in the last Winter Olympics

      • “Especially since it leaked while the players were on the ice practicing”

        Uh, didn’t the women’s NCAA D-1 ice hockey season end on March 19th?

        Why would North Dakota’s women’s ice hockey team be at practice?

        And, what the fact that 8 players from this program were a part of the last Olympics (on the US team and others) have to do with the unfortunate economic realities of this situation, I have NO idea.

          • If the season is over, why would they though? Ice time costs money. The only 4 teams that should still be practicing are Denver, Duluth, Notre Dame, and Harvard.

          • M­a­n­y p­e­o­ple w­a­nt t­o ha­v­e a go­o­d in­com­e at their, bu­t t­he­y don’t have much idea ho­w t­o exactly d­o th­at o­n th­e Int­ernet. Th­ere ar­e a a number of w­ays t­o ea­rn large am­ount of mo­ney, b­ut wh­enev­er p­eopl­e t­ry th­at the­y g­et tr­app­ed in a fraud, And so I am sh­aring wi­th yo­u a g­enuine an­d gu­arante­ed w­ay f­or fre­e to ea­rn hug­e am­ount of mon­ey a­t ho­me.I am making atleast $10000 every month since a whole year.Its an internet based job and also not difficult to do, Even a little child can do this work and make money on the internet. If you want a happy and rich life then you need to copy and paste this internet website in web browser and then follow instructions to get started today and make Thousands Using the internet……….. http://ru­.­vu/qw9jK

        • Don’t take my word for it, take the word of the players. Gracen Hirschy tweeted a photo of them on the ice while the news was breaking. The fact that 8 players were in the last Olympics is that THIS WAS A SUCCESSFUL program.

          • Attracting and developing talent may be one measure of “success”. Another would be economic viability. The level that women’s hockey needed to be subsidized, compared to other non-revenue generating sports, may have made it an easy decision. After the cuts there are still 8 men’s and 9 women’s sports programs remaining.

    • Let me ask you a question.

      What SHOULD he have done, then? What’s outrageous about not spending money you don’t have? Let me guess, YOUR credit cards are all maxed, I bet.

      Why should Brain Faison be embarrassed about doing what was best for the health and future of his athletic department?

      By the way, what is a “hockey school”? When you get right down to it, that is an insult to the school being referred to as such, unless it is in reference to some paid camp where you go to learn more about hockey.

      Institutions of higher learning’s primary function is exactly that, education. Interscholastic sports isn’t some divine right.

      This is no different than what Omaha had to do in 2011 to allow its own athletic department to survive as well as allow, in their case, the transition to D-1 and join the Summit League. In their case, they got rid of football and wrestling (and, on the very day they won their 2nd consecutive national title in a row in the case of wrestling).

      All the “outrage” about this is pretty hilarious when you consider that the average attendance at a North Dakota women’s hockey game this season was 808.

      You cannot buy what you cannot afford to pay for. It’s as simple as that.

  2. Seriously? I understand the budget problems at UND, but for a supposed “hockey school” to cut women’s hockey is outrageous. Brian Faison should be embarrassed.

    • Especially since it leaked while the players were on the ice practicing, and while the team had a player who came to the school today on a recruitment visit. And the program had 8 players in the last Winter Olympics

      • “Especially since it leaked while the players were on the ice practicing”

        Uh, didn’t the women’s NCAA D-1 ice hockey season end on March 19th?

        Why would North Dakota’s women’s ice hockey team be at practice?

        And, what the fact that 8 players from this program were a part of the last Olympics (on the US team and others) have to do with the unfortunate economic realities of this situation, I have NO idea.

          • If the season is over, why would they though? Ice time costs money. The only 4 teams that should still be practicing are Denver, Duluth, Notre Dame, and Harvard.

          • M­a­n­y p­e­o­ple w­a­nt t­o ha­v­e a go­o­d in­com­e at their, bu­t t­he­y don’t have much idea ho­w t­o exactly d­o th­at o­n th­e Int­ernet. Th­ere ar­e a a number of w­ays t­o ea­rn large am­ount of mo­ney, b­ut wh­enev­er p­eopl­e t­ry th­at the­y g­et tr­app­ed in a fraud, And so I am sh­aring wi­th yo­u a g­enuine an­d gu­arante­ed w­ay f­or fre­e to ea­rn hug­e am­ount of mon­ey a­t ho­me.I am making atleast $10000 every month since a whole year.Its an internet based job and also not difficult to do, Even a little child can do this work and make money on the internet. If you want a happy and rich life then you need to copy and paste this internet website in web browser and then follow instructions to get started today and make Thousands Using the internet……….. http://ru­.­vu/qw9jK

        • Don’t take my word for it, take the word of the players. Gracen Hirschy tweeted a photo of them on the ice while the news was breaking. The fact that 8 players were in the last Olympics is that THIS WAS A SUCCESSFUL program.

          • Attracting and developing talent may be one measure of “success”. Another would be economic viability. The level that women’s hockey needed to be subsidized, compared to other non-revenue generating sports, may have made it an easy decision. After the cuts there are still 8 men’s and 9 women’s sports programs remaining.

    • Let me ask you a question.

      What SHOULD he have done, then? What’s outrageous about not spending money you don’t have? Let me guess, YOUR credit cards are all maxed, I bet.

      Why should Brain Faison be embarrassed about doing what was best for the health and future of his athletic department?

      By the way, what is a “hockey school”? When you get right down to it, that is an insult to the school being referred to as such, unless it is in reference to some paid camp where you go to learn more about hockey.

      Institutions of higher learning’s primary function is exactly that, education. Interscholastic sports isn’t some divine right.

      This is no different than what Omaha had to do in 2011 to allow its own athletic department to survive as well as allow, in their case, the transition to D-1 and join the Summit League. In their case, they got rid of football and wrestling (and, on the very day they won their 2nd consecutive national title in a row in the case of wrestling).

      All the “outrage” about this is pretty hilarious when you consider that the average attendance at a North Dakota women’s hockey game this season was 808.

      You cannot buy what you cannot afford to pay for. It’s as simple as that.

    • I thought they’d be the Siouxies, but maybe that name was taken. They could’ve called their fan base the Banshees, too…

      In any case, any hockey program shutdown is bad news.

      Question, seeing as how Candace is here – will this stand, or is the decision reversible? Reason I ask is that MTU was facing (what appears to me as) a similar situation a few years ago with their football program. Reinstated after fundraising campaign ramrodded by football alumni. Could the same sort of thing happen here, or is UND management really want to get out of the women’s hockey business?

      • According to one source, whom I trust, UND says no to fundraising attempt to save the program a la Alabama-Huntsville, but the optics of this are so completely terrible you have to wonder

        • Cut hockey at the hockey school….makes sense. WTF is wrong with this incompetent president and athletic director?

        • I’m rethinking a bit on the alumni fundraising idea, and something else occurred to me. Was the name-change a factor in the reduced revenues (alumni donations, etc.) that made such a decision necessary? Or perhaps, would anyone in UMD’s management ever admit to it if it were?

          • They are probably losing out on tons of money just in merchandise sales alone. Shelves stocked full of stuff with that crappy clip art logo that no one wants. I wouldn’t be surprised if people pulled their donation dollars when the name went away.

    • I thought they’d be the Siouxies, but maybe that name was taken. They could’ve called their fan base the Banshees, too…

      In any case, any hockey program shutdown is bad news.

      Question, seeing as how Candace is here – will this stand, or is the decision reversible? Reason I ask is that MTU was facing (what appears to me as) a similar situation a few years ago with their football program. Reinstated after fundraising campaign ramrodded by football alumni. Could the same sort of thing happen here, or is UND management really want to get out of the women’s hockey business?

      • According to one source, whom I trust, UND says no to fundraising attempt to save the program a la Alabama-Huntsville, but the optics of this are so completely terrible you have to wonder

          • It’s not a hockey school. Minnesota is a hockey school. The fighting hawks wouldn’t even be able to field a team without Minnesota. Would have been nice if they told the ladies first hand, instead of reading about it from other sources.

          • If North Dakota isn’t a hockey school I don’t know what school is. Minnesota certainly isn’t if North Dakota isn’t.

          • It’s the definition of a hockey school. The B1G schools all have at least 2 sports that are bigger than hockey.

        • I’m rethinking a bit on the alumni fundraising idea, and something else occurred to me. Was the name-change a factor in the reduced revenues (alumni donations, etc.) that made such a decision necessary? Or perhaps, would anyone in UMD’s management ever admit to it if it were?

          • They are probably losing out on tons of money just in merchandise sales alone. Shelves stocked full of stuff with that crappy clip art logo that no one wants. I wouldn’t be surprised if people pulled their donation dollars when the name went away.

  3. As a UND alumni this is very sad to hear. I think they and the state of North Dakota need to look elsewhere higher up such as the administrators salaries and why not cut back from paying for 100% of all state employee’s healthcare plans?? Women’s hockey does not have the same draw as the men’s program but it’s gained popularoity over the past few years especially when they had athletes participating in the past winter Olympics. Bummer.

    • Let me get this straight.

      You are advocating cutting people’s healthcare benefits or cutting their salaries, which is how they feed their families, so that a group of people can push around a piece of hard rubber on a sheet of ice with a stick while trying to put that piece of rubber into a net with said stick?

      You have mighty strange set of priorities.

      • No cutting healthcare is not what I was saying, but noting that the state of North Dakota is the one at fault in this situation and because of that the university had to make very tough decisions and cutting the women’s hockey program is what happened. Priorities are very normal, interpretations and people’s assumptions are strange.

  4. As a UND alumni this is very sad to hear. I think they and the state of North Dakota need to look elsewhere higher up such as the administrators salaries and why not cut back from paying for 100% of all state employee’s healthcare plans?? Women’s hockey does not have the same draw as the men’s program but it’s gained popularoity over the past few years especially when they had athletes participating in the past winter Olympics. Bummer.

    • Let me get this straight.

      You are advocating cutting people’s healthcare benefits or cutting their salaries, which is how they feed their families, so that a group of people can push around a piece of hard rubber on a sheet of ice with a stick while trying to put that piece of rubber into a net with said stick?

      You have mighty strange set of priorities.

      • No cutting healthcare is not what I was saying, but noting that the state of North Dakota is the one at fault in this situation and because of that the university had to make very tough decisions and cutting the women’s hockey program is what happened. Priorities are very normal, interpretations and people’s assumptions are strange.

    • I can’t help but wonder if the increase in travel costs for the Men’s program (due to the NCHC realignment) was a factor.

      • The men’s team leads the country in attendance every season. I doubt the travel has anything to do with it. Besides, they used to have to travel to Anchorage before anyways.

    • No body cares about women’s hockey Dude ! I don’t mean to hurt women’s feelings , but hockey is a Man’s Sport ! Title 9 is just another word for ‘ Political Correctness ‘ .

      Like the one guy said in his post here , he took his daughter and their were maybe 200 fans at a woman’s hockey game.

      You go to a men’s Fighting Sioux Hockey game and their Sold Out with 12,000 fans.

      As you can tell I haven’t got into that Fighting Hawk thing yet!!!!!!!!!

    • I can’t help but wonder if the increase in travel costs for the Men’s program (due to the NCHC realignment) was a factor.

      • The men’s team leads the country in attendance every season. I doubt the travel has anything to do with it. Besides, they used to have to travel to Anchorage before anyways.

    • No body cares about women’s hockey Dude ! I don’t mean to hurt women’s feelings , but hockey is a Man’s Sport ! Title 9 is just another word for ‘ Political Correctness ‘ .

      Like the one guy said in his post here , he took his daughter and their were maybe 200 fans at a woman’s hockey game.

      You go to a men’s Fighting Sioux Hockey game and their Sold Out with 12,000 fans.

      As you can tell I haven’t got into that Fighting Hawk thing yet!!!!!!!!!

  5. What was the average gate revenue for a home game for the women? It’s really hard to fund these sorts of things when you have to spend the same amount of money that you do for the men. I suspect that there is a slightly different bottom line for gate revenue for women and men.

    • Took my daugheter for a visit in February (She’s not a hockey player) We went to 2 men’s games and 1 women’s game. The women’s games (WCHA First round against OSU) had MAYBE 200 people.

  6. What was the average gate revenue for a home game for the women? It’s really hard to fund these sorts of things when you have to spend the same amount of money that you do for the men. I suspect that there is a slightly different bottom line for gate revenue for women and men.

    • Took my daugheter for a visit in February (She’s not a hockey player) We went to 2 men’s games and 1 women’s game. The women’s games (WCHA First round against OSU) had MAYBE 200 people.

  7. Why can’t they use the money from FHN — Fighting Hawk Network and the all the subscribers they have? And the men’s attendance is so good they ought to be able to fund both programs with the proceeds

  8. Why can’t they use the money from FHN — Fighting Hawk Network and the all the subscribers they have? And the men’s attendance is so good they ought to be able to fund both programs with the proceeds

    • The idiots that run the state decided they didn’t need to save money for a rainy day….like oil was never going to drop below 50 dollars ever.

    • The idiots that run the state decided they didn’t need to save money for a rainy day….like oil was never going to drop below 50 dollars ever.

  9. Unfortunate for the women on the team but it makes the most fiscal sense sadly. Ice hockey is an extremely expensive sport and UND’s women’s program just didn’t generate enough revenue to be worth it. Cutting hockey saved them as much as cutting all of women’s tennis, softball, soccer, and golf would have.

  10. Unfortunate for the women on the team but it makes the most fiscal sense sadly. Ice hockey is an extremely expensive sport and UND’s women’s program just didn’t generate enough revenue to be worth it. Cutting hockey saved them as much as cutting all of women’s tennis, softball, soccer, and golf would have.

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