Citing rising costs and fluid environment, Illinois stops exploring men’s hockey – College Hockey
The University of Illinois announced Monday that it has ended exploration of adding Big Ten men’s hockey.
“Since we began our exploration of hockey years ago, significant changes in the landscape have brought us to this unfortunate conclusion,” athletic director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We have said time and time again that we would not move the hockey project forward without solid funding and a financial plan. To date, we have been unable to generate the financial backing needed to greenlight the project – a concern that became even more daunting during the pandemic, when we saw the cost projections for the new facility. increase by 30%. »
Rising costs as the NCAA instituted new rules on what can be provided to athletes and on name, image and likeness also contributed to the decision, according to Whitman. “We are investing heavily in new benefits for student-athletes, which increases the marginal cost associated with any new sports offering. Such intense disruption has created ambiguity about the future, and we believe it is unwise for Illinois Athletics to expand our athletic model in such an uncertain environment.
Illinois had worked with College Hockey Inc., the Chicago Blackhawks and the National Hockey League on the plan.
Whitman expressed disappointment with the decision, but did not completely close the door on hockey going forward.
“You never say never in this business, and if the right opportunity came down the road, we’d always be willing to reconsider,” Whitman said. “My heart believes we can support hockey, but my head tells me it’s time to direct our attention elsewhere.”