How the NCAA is Ruining College Hockey
By Zachary Singer
Arguably the most important piece of college sports legislation since Title IX became effective on February 1, 1998.
Chances are, you’ve never heard of it.
A brief, at the pleading of our webmaster, history is as follows:
In January of 1997, at the annual NCAA convention, the NCAA underwent a massive overhaul of its governance structure. The function of subdivisions was completely redefined. The result had a massive impact on the world of college hockey, which had a massive impact on the NCAA.
Four sports in the NCAA make money: football, men’s basketball, baseball, and men’s ice hockey.
From here on out, you may have to think outside the box. It’s healthy. UConn may not be an ice hockey powerhouse, but that doesn’t mean the whole sport is worthless. I’ll tie it into UConn eventually, trust me. Division I men’s ice hockey is serious business, with 56 teams playing from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Orono, Maine, from Mankato, Minnesota, to Huntsville, Alabama,
Yes, Huntsville, Alabama. Pretty good team, too.
Why in the hell does the University of Alabama-Huntsville have a D-I men’s ice hockey team- and a GOOD one at that, you ask? Well, you see, UAH is the only college in Alabama that doesn’t play football, and so, as a way of getting their own spot in the sun, in the late 90’s- heck, I’m getting off topic.
So this whole reorganization thing goes down in 1998, and its affect is heavily felt here at UConn. The UConn Ice Arena only exists now due to this legislation. UConn is only playing Division I ice hockey right now, for the most part, due to this legislation.
The main crux of the reorganization was that any school that plays primarily at the Division I level in most of its sports, MUST play ALL of its sports at the Division I level. This was a way of preventing the resource-laden top-flight schools, such as UConn, possibly overpowering the primarily weaker D-III schools they were competing against, such as Clarkson.
UConn was a staple of the ECAC in Division III in hockey. The team had never won the league title, but Coach Bruce Marshall had built a respectable program on an outdoor rink, going to the ECAC finals in the early 90’s, led by future Hartford Whaler Todd Krygier.
But the NCAA said, no more. UConn, Fairfield, Iona, and a host of other schools all had to pack up shop and move up to the big time, or ditch the program. UConn had to put walls and a roof on its rink. And so they did.
And thus, the MAAC Hockey League was born. A sort of haven for schools who had played D-III hockey that now had to move up to D-I, but weren’t ready for Hockey East (BC, Maine, BU) or the bigger ECAC (Cornell, Yale, Dartmouth, and supposedly Princeton, but nobody’s been sure the last few years) which play hockey on an entirely different level. This included, and was largely due to, the presence of hockey scholarships. The small-time hockey schools of the MAAC were mainly comprised of smaller schools [Iona, Fairfield, Sacred Heart] that weren’t ready to give out the scholarships required to be a member in these bigger conferences. The key to the MAAC was that there was no minimum scholarship requirement, only a maximum.
The wishes of schools like Quinnipiac and Mercyhurst to become bigger players in college hockey, to become “hockey schools”, if you will, along with the presence of only one full-sport MAAC member in the hockey league, led to the dissolution of the MAAC Hockey League on June 30, 2003. The members of the MAAC, sans Iona and Fairfield, who dropped hockey due to financial strains, have formed Atlantic Hockey, an independent league that will likely place more emphasis on hockey scholarships.
As a type of last punch, the MAAC is suing Atlantic Hockey for copyright infringement for using the word “Atlantic” in its title.
But what does this have to do with the present? Sure, moving up was great for small schools such as Quinnipiac and non-hockey schools such as UConn to get a piece of the action on the bigger stage. That’s great, right?
But there’s the other half.
12 Division III schools have been playing up at a Division I level in one sport for many years. Through the NCAA reorganizations of the 60’s, 1973 establishment of the subdivision structure as we know it, the 1979 reorganization, and the 1997 reorganization, these tiny schools that could had participated in one men’s and one women’s sport, per NCAA regulations.
Five of these schools participated in men’s ice hockey.
Clarkson, which boasts the best record of ANY school in Division I, an astounding 1157-568-82 (.663 win pct.).
RPI, whom UConn will play this season, and 2 time National Champions (1954 & 1985).
Union College, home of the Skating Dutchmen.
St. Lawrence, the 6-time ECAC Champions.
Colorado College ranked #1 for a portion of last season, 2 time National Champions (1950 & 1957).
At all of these schools, academics are of a higher standard than almost any other D-I program.
At all of these schools, the athletics department is Division III, yet Division I hockey is king. Nothing unifies the students at these five schools, as does hockey.
However, the NCAA is on the verge of tearing it all down.
Today, the Division III President’s Council recommended a proposal to eliminate the ability for Division III schools to award scholarships in sports in which they perform at a Division I level. The intent is to return Division III to its original ideals, where sports are for the sheer love of the game, there are no scholarships, and academics is without question the main ideal.
For the above five schools, this would be a shattering blow to the past and the future of college hockey. These five institutions do not bend their acceptance standards for hockey players. The hockey captain with a bright NHL future that plays at Colorado College is held to the exact high standards as is any other student seeking to enroll there.
The difference between this statement and similar ones used for football players at big-time football schools is that it’s true. And its true at every one of the listed schools.
Scholarships drive college sports.
UConn finished a point out of last place in the MAAC last season, and is the only school in Division I that is eligible to give out hockey scholarships, however has not. It’s incredibly tough for Coach Marshall to compete with that standard, however he is the winningest coach in UConn history.
But the schools that DO have scholarships are the ones in charge, Minnesota, Maine, Boston College, Michigan…and the five listed.
To strip them of scholarship aid is to strip them of their ability to compete at all, contrary to everything the NCAA is supposed to believe in.
The D-III President’s Committee’s answer to this has been that these schools will simply have to compete in Division III.
Can you imagine that? These schools have such an incredible history that they will still be able to recruit players that would never dream of playing D-III hockey. It will be a joke. The D-III title will be decided before the season starts.
There would be CC, Union, RPI, St. Lawrence, Clarkson, and everyone else.
Everyone else’s chances just left the building.
And the sad reality is that in a matter of months…the long and storied train of these five schools will have left the station as well, stripping them of the one thing that unifies every student at these universities.
The motion will soon be formally voted on by 400 D-III schools, who will simply vote out of envy to eliminate the great success had in D-I by 12 of its members.
The schools that will determine the future of college hockey include the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Shasta Bible College and Chicago School of Professional Psychology. T
The Division I schools, who love having these schools “play up” are outraged over this legislation. Yet they cannot vote on it. They cannot stop it. They, like the schools affected, can only wait and watch.
When your future is in the hands of the unwilling, you are already doomed to fail.
In closing, I ask that you help support the five schools that have been targeted, along with the 7 others. Please sign the petition linked below if you wish to help.
Ps- Thanks to my friend, Huskymaniac, and college hockey expert Eric Dobbs, USCHO’s Adam Wodon for his fine piece on the subject: www.uscho.com/news/2003/08/08_006851.php, and Kurt Stutt for his fine college hockey history website: www.augenblick.org/chha.
Cleveland 104: Advanced Road Tripping
By Brendan Wilkosz
As I am particularly lazy early on a Saturday morning I chose not to change my single alarm preset at midnight and I was forced to awake at 7:00 in the AM. I snoozed for the next forty two minutes at seven minute intervals. Packing was an excruciatingly difficult process that required express written attention to detail. Primary focus was paid to what I wouldn't be bringing for the weekend lark to Cleveland. Thus, my shower was of utmost importance. A nice hot shower helped me to scrub all of the Connecticut out of my pores. A road trip to Cleveland, Ohio is an experience for which hometown baggage is not an appropriate carry-on.
Among the items I did decide to haul were, my journal (of course), one change of clothes, wiffleball equipment, a football, a copy of Walden (for those unavoidable lulls in the drive), and a pillow (because no matter where I should lay my head for a night's sleep, it will always be better with my own pillow). Music selection for the drive essentially caused my lateness. I knew that I would be sharing driving privileges with which comes preferential shotgun seating and musical control.
After a honk and a sarcastic remark my belongings were safely stowed in the trunk of Brian's car. Dan and Mike were seated in the back of the Toyota Corolla discussing some point in sports or another. Awaiting me in the car, in addition to my compatriots, were slightly less than two dozen doughnuts (some pruning occurred the evening prior to the trip when Brian and I purchased the delicious breakfast snacks). We had food, sports equipment, sports opinions, sports intentions, sports aspirations, and all we needed was Chris. Speaking of Chris is something that someone has to do to make up for the lack of speaking associated with him.
The Indians and Twins were slated to play an afternoon game on Sunday July 27th, 2003 at 1:05 PM. Between ourselves and Cleveland: time and distance-one of which would have to be expended to cover the other.
The first leg of the trip was East Hartford, CT to Scranton, PA where Brian's sister, Pam, resides. The lure of a free meal and a well-deserved pit stop was strong enough to tear us from the road. Pam cooked some delicious fetucini alfredo, salad, and cookies. We were less than outwardly grateful for her hospitality, but we did greatly appreciate it. Our lack of courtesy was mainly the result of our trying to shake off the stiffness of the journey.
Loosening our joints while using the aforementioned wiffleball equipment led to an eventful scrum during which cooped up frustrations flared. The field was a parking lot with mound and plate a fluid creation found only in the minds of the participants. Mike exposed his ineptitude for sporting competition of a physical nature- what with his recently repaired, formerly torn ACL. He also donned his brutal lack of sense for fair play. His performance as DH on the Chris/Dan tandem far superseded that of his on the team comprised of Brian and I. As such Brian and I were shut-out in a 'Hey, do you want to get to Cleveland tonight?' shortened game.
Brian continued his duties as driver, but relented and allowed me to take the reins of the trip's chariot after a short pit stop. Police officers were seen often on our journey, but never until this point had they provided any resistance. Coming over a curved hill on I-80W a Pennsylvania state trooper decided to make my acquaintance. In a chivalrous manner this fellow wrote me a warning for traveling above the posted speed limit, but a real citation for 'traveling in the left lane.' (From here on out, the left lane shall be known as the filet mignon lane, as traveling in it appears to cost no less than $104.) Brian was less than pleased with me and his disappointment put a damper on the remainder of the trip for me. Eager to reclaim the reins and observant to the point where he noticed the Jefferson County Fair Grounds Brian suggested we stop and play a little football.
Since Mike was unable to walk the teams were set as Dan/myself versus Chris/Brian. The first game was a drubbing 5-1 with Dan and I prevailing. The second game was Chris/myself vs. Dan/Brian. The final score of that bout was 5-3. Angered by the surprising result Brian dropped the gauntlet and a rematch took place. The result was the same although the game ended with a final score of 8-7 was was called due to our 'Hey, do you want to get to Cleveland tonight?' mentality. I will not comment on the play of any particular player save to say that Mike continued his favoritism and was an inconsistent steady QB.
The drive continued until the outskirts of Cleveland were reached before 11:00 PM. Our hotel was the Red Roof Inn-chosen based solely upon price,
however unintended conduit of a valuable life lesson as imparted by their slogan: 'Red knows the road.' Except, I had to pay out $104 that would surely claim otherwise. Our plans were shattered by complete exhaustion. However, we still managed to kick back a few lukewarm ones we had purchased slightly before 8:00 PM in PA.
We had pulled off the highway to inquire about the beverage situation in the area. The clerk at the gas station said he knew nothing of Blue Laws akin to those found in CT. He told us that the only place to get beer was at the local bar, but seemed rather incoherent. Still, we resigned ourselves to acquire beer later because how can you honestly disregard the word of a gas station cleric. But as we pulled out of the gas station we noticed a tall sign to our left that simply said 'BEER' in white lettering above a black background. We took heed of this omen and disregarded the drawled, uninformed, and slanted advice of the service station attendant and veered left.
Much to the surprise of all involved, the liquor store was of the drive through variety. In disbelief we had to check the situation before becoming obliged to reenter the car and drive through the liquor store. Upon purchase, the 30 pack of beer was cold, but three hours of driving with a stop for dinner at Wendy's in the middle caused the warming of the beer. To contend with the thermodynamic eventuality, much ice was brought to room 104 in the rear of the motel complex. As we hunkered down for the night, resigned to the fact that our perusing of Cleveland would have to wait until another day, I couldn't resist throwing a few pieces of ice in the dark. The night concealed not only the final resting and eventually melting locations for the ice cubes, but appropriately the repercussions for this seemingly insignificant form of teasing.
What ensued was dubbed Ice Bowl (or WW III-VII). Loyalties split just as did pieces of ice frozen no longer than the time it took them to hit the wall or the exposed skin of a soon to be welted target. Dan and I were declared winners (if there even are winners in war) when I simultaneously threw two shoes at our opponents, Mike and Brian. Chris was sleeping soundly just steps from the cross-fire, and truth be told, he probably spoke more in his sleep during the ice fight than he did during most of the rest of the trip (his restrained nature earned him the nickname 'Verbal'). Other events of note during the Ice Bowl were the tossing of a chair by Dan- a step of escalation that only lead to further escalation by both sides. It seemed to become quiet in room 104.
Several times foolish members of the party left the room (for more ice to actually be used for cooling purposes) only to return to a newly hatched plot of destruction. Several ambushes were set. Brian was to return to his bed only to have Mike sneak up from the area in between the two beds and a picture snapped. I was behind the door as a decoy and to take the eventual picture, but the timing was off and no suitable picture was taken. There was also an ambush set for me that involved Brian's moon and a picture. I'm pretty interested to see what that one looks like. Wait, on second thought, I don't want to ever see that again, and why Mike and Dan encouraged Brian to do this is beyond me. The final ambush was well executed. The evening combat seemed to be concluded as I made the last ice run. Brian and Mike distracted me, while Dan filled a garbage can with water (and hopefully no urine). With the knee-high waste basket a third full of water Dan burst from the bathroom door less than five feet from my sleeping area. I had little time to prepare for the cascade of water. The liquid poured over my already snugly tucked-in self only stopped partially by my outstretched hand.
The already haphazard sleeping arrangements of Chris and Brian in the beds, and Mike, Dan, and myself on the floor were reshuffled due to ice wetted carpet, and we finally turned in. All of my belongings, including my single change of clothes, were drenched in the conclusion of the struggle so my first waking thoughts were of procuring a new shirt. After buying one at the local Big K the crew ate at Friendly's. Our first encounter with an attractive waitress occurred here. Dan was certainly friendly to her. I told him that he should go up to her and say, 'Do you get off in 10 minutes?' 'Because I do.' None of us sacced up enough to talk to her.
Room 104 was cleared out before noon and we made our way to Jacob's Field. Left Field bleacher seats seemed most enticing. In the end, the Indians pulled out a thriller (really as Mike put it 'not a pitchers duel so much as a complete lack of offensive ability') in the bottom of the 14th. The final was 3-2, Indians over the Twins. We self upgraded our seats in the later innings when the weary fans scattered due to unpleasant skies which provided us with the opportunity to heckle Cleveland LF Coco Crisp. The most poignant insult was delivered by Dan, 'C'mon Coco- You and the Cap'n can make it happen.' A portion of Dan's unrest and disdain stemmed from his desire (as matched by mine) to arrive home prior to his 8:00 AM start of his work week.
I'm sure we wouldn't have had to sit through 14 innings of offensive stagnation if Brian had not jinxed the game. At roughly 3:10 in the top of the 9th he said, 'Wow, this has to be one of the fastest games in the Major Leagues this season.' Of course, the Twins prized closer 'Everyday' Eddie Guardado gave up the game tying run in the bottom of the inning. The Indians were unable to score any other runs that inning though they had their chances. So we headed to extra innings with the score tied 2-2. The next several innings (and hours) were a continued display of offensive fizzle as both clubs squandered numerous chances. Indians catcher, Tim Laker, singled with two out in the bottom of the 14th, and Brian received his comeuppance when he found himself in the bathroom during the finale to the contest.
Although the game had completed the trip was far from done. At games end, and barring any delays the estimated time of arrival was very early morning. We were slowed by severe thunderstorms. Brian drove for a good bit of the trip and couldn't even see 15 feet in front of him because of the torrential downpour. The storm downed trees on the road and caused several incidences of rubbernecking. The most glowing example of the power of the storm was a terrifyingly cool fire at a power conversion station a mere 15 yards from the highway. There were a couple of fire crews drenching the blazing area with little success. The fire reached a height of 30 feet into the air and thick black smoke billowed from the site.
The drive continued. It was filled with the normal pleasantries of a trip (including several colorful jokes), but I couldn't shake the feeling that I just wanted to be home and sleeping. Another basic need had to be satisfied on our way back. We stopped at the same exit that we had stopped on the way to Cleveland to eat at Wendy's. This time, though, we went to Arby's. The staff at Arby's was a bunch of jailbait. The employees were seriously hot(tt-extra t's for emphasis), but seriously underaged. Again, none of us sacced up enough to go speak with them other than to thank them for preparing our meals (which they probably wished they spit in to offset the gawking and commenting we did during our eating). Maybe I'm justifying my reason and lack of gumption, but flirting when it comes to food service should be a one way street, and the initiator should be fishing for money.
The actual arrival time was later than expected. I drove for a short period in the middle, and Brian finished off the trip. There were occasional bits of conversation during the last leg of the trip, but I drifted in and out of consciousness and didn't imbibe much of it. The end of the trip was anticlimactic, and as I exited the Corolla (cursing its crampedness) I staggered drowsily up to my bed. I was stiff from the ride for no less than three days.