Bowling Green Program In Jeopardy
CHN Staff Report
Bowling Green, a program with a storied past including a national championship in 1984, could be eliminated as a varsity program under cost-cutting measures at the university — confirming rumors that have swirled for weeks.
Bowling Green school president Dr. Carol Cartwright was rumored to have made a recommendation that cutting hockey be one of the options. University trustee Michael Marsh denied that was the case, and said that decisions on alleviating a large budget shortfall would come from the athletic director Greg Christopher.
"I'm obviously disappointed it's even being discussed," said Clarkson coach George Roll, who scored 62 goals for the Falcons from 1981-85, and was a member of the 1984 national championship team. "I don't know the specifics. I do know I have a lot of pride from that program, it was the best years or my life, and I hate to see the program being treated this way."
Adding to the ominous issue for college hockey, is that Dr. Cartwright was the president at Kent State when that school dropped its program in 1994. Kent State did not have nearly the winning tradition as Bowling Green, however.
“I will say that everything is on the table because of the severe financial situation. I’m not one that wants to limit opportunities for young people," Marsh told the Sentinel-Tribune. "The (athletic program) has lost three-quarters of a million dollars this year in spite of our best efforts. That can’t continue. The academic departments know they are in for severe changes and athletics can’t be treated any differently."
Already, college hockey has been hit hard by programs and leagues collapsing, and consolidation, in recent years. College Hockey America will fold after next year. In recent years, programs such as Fairfield, Findlay, Iona and Wayne State have folded up their tents.
Bowling Green, which was established in 1969-70, and moved into the fledgling CCHA two years later, would be, by far, the most prominent program to be eliminated since Illinois-Chicago.
According to reports, the school faces a shortfall of as much as $10 million.
“It’s not an option that everyone will be happy with the results. Absolutely everything is on the table,” Marsh said.
Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch, who just completed his seventh season and has one more year left on his contract, said no decision has been made yet, as far as he knows.
Bowling Green finished in last place again this season with 11 wins, the third time in the last four years, and was just eliminated from the CCHA playoffs. It has not had a winning season since 1997, Buddy Powers' third year as head coach. The 18 wins last year were the most since 1996.
Bowling Green's tradition includes two of the most legendary coaches in NCAA history — Ron Mason and Jerry York. Between them, they led Bowling Green to nine NCAA tournament appearances between 1975 and 1990. York left for Boston College in 1994, at which time his former assistant, Powers, left RPI to return for apparently greener pastures.
But the program has been neglected since then. And a plan to spend $16 million on renovations was eventually reduced to $12 million, then $4 million, then recently scrapped entirely, leaving the Ice Arena as one of the CCHA's worst venues.
Some renovations were made to the locker room area in recent years, as the result of donations that came completely from alumni. Some prominent NHL alumni were among those that contributed — including Rob Blake and Nelson Emerson.
Some have speculated that the rumors of the program's demise is to instigate alumni to spend money again to keep the program afloat.
Adding to Bowling Green's place in college hockey — four alumni are currently NCAA Division I head coaches, including Paluch, Roll, Ohio State's John Markell and RIT's Wayne Wilson. (note: corrected)
"I don't think the program has been supported like it needs to," Roll said. "Just from things I've heard. Being there this year (with Clarkson), the rink clearly needs work.
"There's a lot of talk amongst alumni in the last couple days. We're doing what we can."
A Facebook group has already been set up called Save BGSU Hockey.