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March 2, 2007 E-MAIL PRINT Bookmark and Share

Lowell's Future in Jeopardy

CHN Staff Report

As college hockey wrestles with the possibility of losing College Hockey America and those implications, out of the blue comes another program whose future is in jeopardy, casting another shadow on the sport.

A proposal raised at a University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees athletics subcommittee meeting jeopardizes Massachusetts-Lowell's future in Hockey East.

In fact, as new details came to light Friday of that meeting, some trustees also recommended the sport be dropped entirely, citing gender equity concerns.

Other options would include moving the RiverHawks from Hockey East into either the ECAC or Atlantic Hockey.

"To know what we know and not do anything would be irresponsible," Tocco said Thursday to the Lowell Sun.

"If they can get to a national championship in another league, we should look at another Division I conference where they can be a dominant team," Tocco added, with explaining how moving to another conference would better help win a national championship. "That's what's going to bring people into the building, get people excited and bring a national championship."

The idea, according to some officials, is Tocco's vision of solidifying the Amherst campus as the state's flagship. Apparently, this includes preventing Mass.-Lowell from competing directly against Massachusetts.

According to the Lowell Sun, the RiverHawks program loses over $600,000 per year. Though the Amherst program, the Minutemen, is actually more than $1 million in the red annually.

This issue arose before, in 2001. But the plan was quashed.

"I would like to stay in Hockey East, all things considered," said Lowell athletic director Dana Skinner to The Sun. "Being in Hockey East is something our folks are very proud of and gives Lowell something to cheer about. That said, we have serious issues to address and it's important that we follow through with this process."

Lowell is the only team in Hockey East that doesn't own its building. It shares the municipally-owned Tsongas Arena, which causes conflicts.

Lowell is an original member of Hockey East, which began play in 1984.

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