Surprise Move Leaves Atlantic Hockey With 10 Teams
CHN Staff Report
In a surprise announcement, Robert Morris University today said it will discontinue its men’s and women’s hockey programs.
The decision is effective immediately.
“The decision to discontinue the men’s and women’s ice hockey programs was made based on an analysis which included scholarships and operating costs, and the necessary investments to maintain and improve the current facility,” the school said in a statement. “The university also wanted to align our athletic offerings more closely with other similar nationally-ranked universities of our size.”
Robert Morris men’s coach Derek Schooley was not immediately available for comment.
Schooley has been the program’s head coach since its inception in 2004. The team went 275-275-68 in that time. This past season, the Colonials won their division of Atlantic Hockey, before losing in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. RMU made the NCAA Tournament once, in 2014.
College hockey continues to go through a tumultuous period, with Alaska-Anchorage and Alabama-Huntsville also on the chopping block. UAA is trying to raise enough funds to continue, but hasn’t yet. UAH recently suspended operations pending the ability to find a conference. Arizona State, Alaska (Fairbanks) and Long Island will play as independents this year. There has been movement by Lindenwood (St. Louis) to adding D-I men’s hockey soon.
The school said it made the decision after a process of long evaluation process. It said it will honor the scholarships of the players already in the program.
“Once the decision was made, the university wanted to announce it as quickly as possible to allow student-athletes to pursue all other options available to them,” the school said. “We notified head coaches in person and arranged virtual meetings with assistant coaches and support staff. We shared the news directly with student-athletes through a Zoom meeting. (Most student-athletes were not currently on campus.) Athletics Department and other university staff are on call to help student-athletes during this difficult time.”
The school added that the COVID-19 pandemic was not a major factor in its decision.
“We are saddened for the student-athletes who will be unable to continue in their sport at Robert Morris University and are committed to assisting them during this difficult time,” said RMU President Chris Howard. “However, this is the best course of action to leverage our strategic assets and position us for future growth.”