SCHENECTADY – Since promotion from NCAA Division III to Division I in the 1991-92 season, the league’s men’s hockey team has never awarded athletic scholarships. It wasn’t until the early 2000s when the program was able to get players based on financial need.
But things could change by the end of January, not just for the men’s team, but for the women’s team as well.
The NCAA will vote during the January 19-22 NCAA Conference in Indianapolis on legislation that would allow Division III schools that sponsor Division I sports that do not currently award athletic scholarships to do so. Voting will take place on the last day of the conference.
Another hockey program that would benefit from the change is RIT.
Union is one of four ECAC Hockey Schools that are Division III institutions that play Division I hockey. The others are Clarkson, RPI, and St. Lawrence. These three offer sports hockey scholarships.
Two other ECACH schools, Division I institutions Colgate and Quinnipiac, offer athletic scholarships. The six Ivy League schools that play in ECACH, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, do not offer athletic scholarships.
Athletic Union Director Jim McLaughlin said the school, along with RIT, is sponsoring the legislation.
“We’ve been looking into this for over a year,” McLaughlin said. “Given the real potential for major changes on the horizon for the NCAA landscape, we felt we had to work together to put a few things in place in order to keep our programs competitive.”
The legislation received the blessing of the Council of Chiefs of the Third Division, which lent its support last month. Three other Division III schools that sponsor Division I sports and do not offer athletic scholarships are Hobart (men’s lacrosse), Franklin and Marshall (wrestling), and MIT (rowing).
Ten Division 3 schools currently sponsor Division 1 sport, with five of them being able to provide athletics assistance due to a waiver granted in 2004.
“As we prepare for what will be a historic NCAA convention, we’ve had an amazing conversation about how best to support our student-athletes,” Hamlin President and President Vince Miller said in a statement. . DIII membership includes a variety of sports organizations and experiences. So it is to be expected that a difficult conversation will arise at times, but always thoughtful with any proposal made for consideration.”
If the legislation is passed, federation hockey teams can immediately begin offering athletic scholarships.
“It expands our pool,” McLaughlin said. “We are able to talk to more individuals and determine the most suitable pitch for the men’s and women’s ice hockey programme.”
McLaughlin said Additional dollars needed to support scholarships will be funded by donors.
“This will not affect the financial aid budget available to all students and the union will continue to meet the full financial needs of all students,” McLaughlin said.
The Men’s League has become one of the best programs in the country over the past decade. The Dutch have won four ECAC regular season titles (2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14, and 2016-17) and three consecutive ECACH titles (2012, 2013 and 2014). They have played in five NCAA tournaments, reached the Frozen Four in 2012 and 2014 and won the national title in 2014.
But since this national title, the league has participated in only one NCAA tournament (2017). In 2019-20, the last season the Dutch played before the coronavirus pandemic, they posted 8-25-4, their worst record under coach Rick Bennett.
Rick Bennett, the men’s federation coach, who has been involved in the program since 2005-2006, believes that having the ability to offer athletic scholarships is a game-changer in the program.
“It’s putting Union College, it’s putting RIT on a fair ball court,” Bennett said. Recently, this has not been the case. It’s time for the ballpark to be the way it is.”
The women’s hockey team would benefit greatly from offering athletic scholarships. The Dutch women have not had a winning season since becoming a Division I program in 2003-2004. They have never participated in the ECACH tournament. Her highest score was ten.
“Just being able to get scholarships would be huge for our programme,” said Josh Sheba, who has been the Dutch Women’s coach since 2016-2017. “Obviously, it’s a big game changer. I think when you look at our program now, when the players come to the campus, they love the school, they love the education, they love the degree. The ROI is great in terms of what they get.
“But I think our biggest asset is the cost. Education keeps going up. That’s the important thing for families. For us, we want equity. We want to level the playing field. We want to make sure we do what everyone else is doing, and have the opportunity to make sports grants that give us This ability.”
Bennett and Siba said it was too early to say if any of the current players would be considered for athletic scholarships.
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