LONG DISTANCE THOUGHTS 5.27.2021

By

Paul Hornstein

So for the second time in a month, a school’s administration has screwed all of the people involved in their university’s hockey programs. And the only reason I did not use anything stronger or more descriptive is because we try to keep things PG around here. 

About a month ago, as the season ended and recruiting was done, the administration at Alabama-Huntsville, decided “Eh, we are tired of waiting for someone to let us into their league, so we will just stop playing until they do.” so they threw a tantrum & “suspended” the program until a league can be found. Of course, this was after other schools decided that they did not want to go to Huntsville or Alaska to play anymore and since it was too costly to kick them out of the league, those schools decided, we will leave and form our own league.

Then just this week, in the 24 hours before I sat down and wrote this, the administration at Robert Morris University decided that hockey didn’t fit into its strategy. And disbanded both their men’s & women’s programs. All of this after the school just hosted the Frozen Four. All of this, after apparently holding meetings with the hockey people about the way forward with a hockey facility. When this announcement was made, it was correctly called by another writer a steaming pile. Use your imagination as to what the pile was made of.

These players at Robert Morris were dealt an even worse hand than the guys at UAH. At least the guys at UAH had some chance to find a place to play. RMU players had about an hour and a half’s notice they were out of a team. At this point schools are releasing schedules, and making plans for cranking back up in September. It is very likely that no one on these two teams will be able to find a place to play. And that is the worst part of this. These kids, who will likely never play at a higher level than they are now are getting the rest of their careers taken away for some “strategy”.

So now, while Alaska-Anchorage drives to save their team (they have raised about $2.25M of the $3M goal), Alabama-Huntsville waits AGAIN, for acceptance, a third team in Robert Morris is just trying to figure out what happened. There is no doubt that there will be a push to save programs, but my guess is that this will have to happen just about overnight. The 21-22 is, in its own way, already started.

Does Atlantic Hockey now accept Huntsville’s offer to supplement their members’ travel budgets & give them what was RMU’s schedule? Do the “troops” rally & save the RMU program? Do they bring in LIU as their replacement? And what about the third “mystery team” that the league commissioner talked about during the conference tournament?

I know that college sports are a business, in the end. And schools have the right to do as they please. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to that business. 

What we have seen in the last month or so, is NOT the right way to do business. The folks in the Huntsville & Robert Morris hockey communities deserve better than the treatment they are getting.

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