IL will partner with the NHL and NHLPA to evaluate the possible addition of hockey as a varsity sport.
They'll start with the University of IL.
"What we're excited about is the impact that hockey could have not just on IL athletics but on university and ultimately on the broader Champaign-Urbana community", IL athletic director Josh Whitman said. "With hockey's popularity in both Chicago and St. Louis, and the rapidly growing youth participation across the state, we anticipate tremendous interest in the sport at our university". We are grateful to College Hockey, Inc., USA Hockey and our colleagues with the Chicago Blackhawks, who have been incredibly supportive during our preliminary due diligence.
The study will analyze factors necessary for IL to start and maintain a hockey program, including expenses, funding opportunities, facility needs, Title IX considerations and community support.
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Athletic director Josh Whitman said initial research revealed several factors suggesting that hockey could be popular on campus. "We believe it could be transformative for our athletic program, our university, and our community".
IL announced Friday in a joint news conference that it will partner with the NHL and NHLPA to evaluate the possibility of adding hockey as a varsity men's and women's sport.
If it's determined that the midwest-based university will be a good fit, they'll join some recent additions.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula will be in the spotlight at the NHL Draft. Arizona State University is in its second year of NCAA hockey after moving up from club. According to recent data, IL produces the fifth-most NCAA hockey players across the United States, and the number of youth participants since 1993 has doubled.
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