ICY RECEPTION

 Uncategorized
Sep 162008
 
Authors: Adam Bohlmeyer, Scott Callahan

After multiple seasons full of steps into the national spotlight, the CSU Club Hockey team is looking to take an even bigger step into Division-I competition.

The Rams, who made it to the national club tournament the past two seasons, are currently circulating a petition and gathering support in an attempt for the University to grant them D-I status.

Bret Tatman, a former Ram hockey player, started the petition in July to get a feel of the support his cause had.

“The petition is the beast that got us started,” Tatman said. “It was a gauge to see what the interest was.”

To date, the petition has 1,133 signatures from community members, which gives Tatman hope his cause is within reach.

“If we can get the financing there and the money lined up it’s highly likely that it will happen,” he said. “It really depends on our movement.”

Tatman plans to take his cause to the CSU campus in hopes of gathering more support.

New head coach Eric Sunness has a strong belief that the Rams deserve to be a D-I team.

“I’m strongly in favor of it,” the first year coach said. “Northern Colorado could easily support a division one hockey club. With the popularity of teams like the Colorado Eagles and the Avalanche and the phenomenal growth of hockey in the area there is no doubt in my mind we could support a team.”

CSU athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said that it isn’t likely the hockey team will become a division one squad anytime soon, explaining that the school should spend an already tight budget on already existing programs.

“We don’t fund current sports enough to add additional sports,” he said. “We need to take the resources we do have and use them on the sports we already have. That means anything from women’s tennis to football.”

Jeff Collier, the athletic business manager for CSU, estimated that to add a new program would cost a minimum of one million dollars. The university currently has 16 varsity sports, ranging from men’s and women’s basketball to track and field.

Kowalczyk added that the Title IX rule also creates additional problems, mainly more funding. Under the rule, a university must add an equally funded women’s program for every men’s sport granted D-1 status. CSU most recently added the men’s and women’s water polo teams in 2005.

Tatman, who has had conversations with Kowalczyk about After multiple seasons full of steps into the national spotlight, the CSU Club Hockey team is looking to take an even bigger step into Division-I competition.

The Rams, who made it to the national club tournament the past two seasons, are currently circulating a petition and gathering support in an attempt for the University to grant them D-I status.

Bret Tatman, a former Ram hockey player, started the petition in July to get a feel of the support his cause had.

“The petition is the beast that got us started,” Tatman said. “It was a gauge to see what the interest was.”

To date, the petition has 1,133 signatures from community members, which gives Tatman hope his cause is within reach.

“If we can get the financing there and the money lined up it’s highly likely that it will happen,” he said. “It really depends on our movement.”

Tatman plans to take his cause to the CSU campus in hopes of gathering more support.

New head coach Eric Sunness has a strong belief that the Rams deserve to be a D-I team.

“I’m strongly in favor of it,” the first year coach said. “Northern Colorado could easily support a division one hockey club. With the popularity of teams like the Colorado Eagles and the Avalanche and the phenomenal growth of hockey in the area there is no doubt in my mind we could support a team.”

CSU athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said that it isn’t likely the hockey team will become a division one squad anytime soon, explaining that the school should spend an already tight budget on already existing programs.

“We don’t fund current sports enough to add additional sports,” he said. “We need to take the resources we do have and use them on the sports we already have. That means anything from women’s tennis to football.”

Jeff Collier, the athletic business manager for CSU, estimated that to add a new program would cost a minimum of one million dollars. The university currently has 16 varsity sports, ranging from men’s and women’s basketball to track and field.

Kowalczyk added that the Title IX rule also creates additional problems, mainly more funding. Under the rule, a university must add an equally funded women’s program for every men’s sport granted D-1 status. CSU most recently added the men’s and women’s water polo teams in 2005.

Tatman, who has had conversations with Kowalczyk about moving up the hockey team, explained that he understands the athletic department’s situation, but is still convinced the hockey team will be a beneficial program.

“When it comes time to add another sport, we want hockey to be the obvious choice,” Tatman said.

Tatman has taken strides to help alleviate financial concerns by establishing the Ram Hockey Group LLC, an organization that takes donations to benefit not only CSU hockey but hockey in northern

Colorado.

Fifty percent of donations go directly to the Ram’s D-I aspirations, 25 percent goes to youth hockey clubs and 25 percent goes to the CSU club team.

Ken Ralph, the director of athletics for Colorado College (home of the Division-I Tigers), described the costs behind funding a D-1 hockey team.

Ralph explained that scholarships, staff salaries, travel costs, equipment, recruiting, facilities use and miscellaneous expenses are all considered when coming up with a team budget.

CC does make an average profit of $350,000 a year from ticket sales, sponsors and value in kind, which include sponsors giving out equipment in return for advertising.

Extra profits go to financing other CC sports programs.

The push for CSU D-I hockey status has received a boost from respected names in Colorado hockey world. Head coaches from successful division one programs in the state, including the University of Denver and CC, have signed the Rams petition in support.

Sunness is still adamant that there is room for Hockey to take a step up at CSU, even if it is a tough process.

“Realistically it shouldn’t take us more than five years to reach our goal,” he said.

“There are so many benefits to it,” Sunness said.

Recent inductee to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, the Nebraska University in Omaha hockey team has been around since 1997. According to head coach Mike Kemp starting a team is hard, money aside.

A new team is not immediately accepted in a conference. They have to start as an independent team and earn respect to find a home in a conference.

“It was a struggle to find games,” said Kemp. “It took us a few years to be eligible. We were very competitive but didn’t win a lot of games right away. We had a few monumental wins and helping victories.”

Kemp said that a D-I hockey team needs to be largely supported.

For UNO, it’s the community support and enthusiasm that keeps their team and the program strong.

UNO has sold out for the last seven years making ticket sales their primary revenue.

The Rams finished ninth in the national club rankings for the 2007 season, which gives Sunness confidence that the team has some players that could compete at a higher level.

The Fort Collins native explained that to be truly successful the Rams will need to expand their recruiting base, something impossible without being D-1 team.

“Right now our club has five or six players who could play at the D-1 level,” he said.

“To field a competitive team we’d have to recruit from Midwest and other hockey leagues. It will be beneficial for everybody.”

Sports reporters Scott Callahan and Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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