Men's ice hockey program disbanded without notice
PITTSBURGH, PA. — There is some hope that NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey could return to Robert Morris University.
The university’s Athletic Department says they are joining with the newly-formed Pittsburgh College Hockey Foundation to try and raise funds for the reinstatement of the ice hockey programs.
In a surprise announcement in the spring, Robert Morris administrators announced the immediate disbanding of the hockey program.
In response, alumni players and other RMU hockey supporters created the Pittsburgh College Hockey Foundation in an attempt to bring the sport back to the university.HELP SAVE RMU ICE HOCKEY
They say in a news release that they have “already secured a meaningful amount of gifts and pledges.” Representatives from the group and the university met on Monday and agreed to work on fundraising in hopes of saving the programs.
“The Pittsburgh College Hockey Foundation [is] a handful of alumni and some community members,” said board member Brianne Bittle.
Bittle, a former Olympic goalie, said she understands the problem firsthand: hockey costs big money.
“The travel is expensive, the ice is expensive. You talk to any youth hockey player, and you’re just devastated when your kid breaks a stick or grows out of their skates.”
They have put in place an overall fundraising goal of $7 million over the next five years.
“We just need to assess whether there is enough momentum, enough interest, and enough enthusiasm for a path forward. What we don’t want to do is bring the programs back and after 1 year be in the same place we were before,” said RMU Vice President of Public Relations Jonathan Potts.
The change of course comes about two weeks after the group of players hired Tom Brady’s former attorney Jeffrey Kessler. He defended Brady in the Deflategate scandal.
For life-long players like Bittle, this renewed conversation brings hope. It means a happy ending for the existing players and a future for new ones.
“Some of the players that were committed, and we were trying to find [them] other places to go, if these things come back, they still have their permanent home here in Pittsburgh,” said Bittle.
It’s not a done deal and the university said this is the beginning of conversations. They set a deadline for July 31 to assess if there’s enough momentum and to field teams for the upcoming season.