Big Ten to recommend men's ice hockey as conference sport

March 22, 2011

University Park, Pa. — The Big Ten Conference on Monday (March 21) announced the intention to recommend the establishment of men's ice hockey as an official conference sport, with The Pennsylvania State University one of the six institutions that would compete for the 2013-14 academic year.

Penn State is establishing NCAA Division I men's and women's hockey programs, with the first season of competition set for 2012-13. The Nittany Lions would join Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin in vying for the Big Ten men's ice hockey championship. Big Ten rules allow for a conference championship when six institutions sponsor a program in any given sport.

The directors of athletics of the six institutions will recommend to the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors in June the establishment of men's ice hockey as a conference sport with the 2013-14 season. The recommendation includes both the establishment of the inaugural Big Ten Men's Ice Hockey Tournament in March 2014, with the winner earning the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship, and a 20-game conference schedule with each team playing the other five schools four times (two home games and two away games).

In September 2010, the University announced an $88 million gift from Terrence M. and Kim Pegula, the largest private gift in Penn State's history, which was intended to fund an ice arena as well as help to establish an NCAA Division I men's hockey program. In conjunction with the gift, Penn State will establish an NCAA women's hockey program.

Conference affiliation for the Penn State women's ice hockey program is to be determined. Penn State will become the fourth Big Ten institution to sponsor varsity women's hockey, joining Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

"I am glad to see that the conference formation came together so quickly," Terry Pegula said. "One of the main reasons I decided to make the gift to Penn State was to see the great sport of college hockey evolve. Congratulations to the Big Ten Conference for making this leap of faith and I hope it can serve as a catalyst for the growth and exposure for the game of hockey in North America."

"The Big Ten Conference represents competing at the highest level, regardless of sport," said Tim Curley, Penn State Director of Athletics. "We always want to provide the very best experience for our student-athletes. As we transition to a Division I hockey program, we're humbled to align with some of our Big Ten peers who, year after year, represent the nation's elite in college hockey."

"I recently visited all the Big Ten hockey venues and the passion and enthusiasm among the Big Ten fans is the best in the country," said Joe Battista, Penn State Associate Athletic Director for Ice Arena and Hockey Development. "We are really excited about the design plans we have for the Pegula Ice Arena and our goal is to make it the best atmosphere in the nation. We can't wait to bring Big Ten hockey to Happy Valley."

Since Penn State's announcement last September, the conference has researched and investigated the establishment of men's ice hockey as a conference sport. The conference has sought input and communicated both internally with conference chancellors, presidents, administrators and coaches, and externally with members of the hockey community, including the CCHA and WCHA. The Big Ten's men's ice hockey programs will continue to proactively work to maintain a strong schedule of non-conference competition with the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

Pegula Ice Arena is slated to open in late 2013. Crawford Architects of Kansas City, Mo., and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., are the architects for the design of the new 200,000-square-foot, multi-purpose ice arena to be constructed on the University Park campus.

Pegula Ice Arena will be the only major rink within an 80-mile radius and will be on par with the best collegiate facilities in the country. The facility will be built on the corner of Curtin Road and University Drive, directly west of the Bryce Jordan Center. It will include two ice sheets and other features that will allow it to be used for a broad range of campus and community activities, from commencement ceremonies to kinesiology classes to public skating sessions and camps for youth.

The addition of men's and women's ice hockey at Penn State will increase the number of sports that Intercollegiate Athletics offers to 31, which will tie it for third-highest among the 120 institutions in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Big Ten currently features 25 official conference sports, 12 for men and 13 for women.

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Last Updated March 28, 2011