UConn Officially Announces Hockey East Move
CHN Staff Report
STORRS, Conn. As first reported by CHN on Wednesday, Connecticut made official Thursday that it has accepted an invitation to join Hockey East, beginning in 2014-15.
That is one year later than the rest of the changes will sweep through college hockey, including Notre Dame moving to Hockey East as its 11th team. That move precipitated a desire on Hockey East's part to find a 12th team, with UConn being a logical choice. But UConn had not previously expressed a desire to upgrade its program.
That has changed.
“This is a historic day in the history of the University of Connecticut and its Division of Athletics,” said UConn athletic director Warde Manuel. “Hockey East is the premier men’s ice hockey conference in the country and we are proud to say that the Huskies are now part of it. ... We are committed to developing a men’s ice hockey program that can and will perform successfully on the national level and compete for Hockey East and NCAA championships.
“I would also like to recognize Commissioner Robert DeGregorio and our fellow Atlantic Hockey institutions for their support during this decision making process.”
Connecticut currently does not offer athletic scholarships in men’s ice hockey, but plans to elevate to the NCAA maximum of 18 scholarships as a participant in Hockey East. UConn will also add additional athletic scholarships to women’s sports to ensure compliance with gender equity regulations.
A formal news conference will be held Friday, June 29, at the XL Center in Hartford, where the team plans to play its Hockey East games.
A question that will surely be asked over the coming years is, what will happen with current long-time coach Bruce Marshall, a 1985 UConn graduate and the program's head coach since 1988.
“The entire UConn men’s ice hockey family is very excited about this announcement," Marshall said. "We are very grateful to the administration of the University and to the entire state for bringing Connecticut into Hockey East. From our current student-athletes to our dedicated hockey alumni base, there is great anticipation about this move."
Hockey East commissioner Joe Bertagna noted the school's existing relationship with the conference in women's hockey.
"This is one of the most historic and significant days in the history of our conference," said Hockey East Commissioner Joe Bertagna. "We have enjoyed a terrific relationship with the University of Connecticut for more than a decade through our involvement with its women's hockey program. Today we start a new chapter in this relationship and we couldn't be more pleased.
“Warde Manuel and his staff did a commendable job in preparing for this moment and I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the role played by the state's biggest hockey fan, Governor Dan Malloy. Our directors have always said that we would welcome growth through any institution that brings value to our conference. No other school was better positioned to do this than the University of Connecticut."
UConn plans to play its home Hockey East conference games at the XL Center in downtown Hartford and will continue to play non-conference games in Storrs at the Mark Edward Freitas Ice Forum. The XL Center is the longtime off-campus home of both the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“The State of Connecticut is very excited that UConn is joining Hockey East and will be bringing the passion of college hockey to downtown Hartford,” Malloy said. “I have been a longtime fan of college hockey and believe that this is an incredible opportunity for the University. It is also a great opportunity to bring more top-flight events to the XL Center and further enhance the quality of life in downtown Hartford.”