UConn Investigating Its Options
CHN Staff Report
Connecticut has hired a consulting firm to d a "complete evaluation of its men's ice hockey program," according to a news release from the school.
Stafford Sports was hired to "assess the program’s current level of support to that of Atlantic Hockey league members and other programs in the region. The assessment will include financial support, staffing, facilities and potential revenue sources."
No mention of Hockey East was made in the release, but the league has an opening. The league will go to 11 teams as of 2013-14 with the recent announcement that Notre Dame would join. The league has expressed a preference to stay with an even number, and look for a 12th team. It's widely believed that Connecticut is first on Hockey East's list, since it would join with the other hockey-playing New England state schools like New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Massachusetts-Lowell.
However, UConn could simply choose to upgrade itself within Atlantic Hockey, its current conference. The Huskies do not currently offer any scholarships in men's hockey, even though Atlantic Hockey currently allows up to 12.
"As realignment goes, Atlantic Hockey is getting more and more competitive," UConn athletic director Mike Enright told the New Haven Register.
UConn also plays in a tiny arena, and if it wanted to play in Hockey East, it would have to upgrade its facility as well.
According to the New Haven Register, Enrigh said that disbanding the program was "not an option."
Stafford Sports is the same consulting firm that is working with the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Ironically, that means Stafford would've been involved in the NCHC's decision not to accept Notre Dame, which prompted its move to Hockey East instead.