In his quarterly summary for the summer of 2022, Binghamton University president Harvey Stenger mentioned that the school is currently conducting a study regarding the school adding a Division I men’s hockey team.
Binghamton is a public university in central New York, part of the State University of New York system. Their athletics program competes at the Division I level as members of the America East conference.
Other than a brief stint when the school sponsored a Division III men’s team in the late-1980s, Binghamton has mostly been a pro hockey town. They hosted AHL affiliate teams from 1977 to 1997, and then again from 2002 until 2020. The New Jersey Devils officially moved their AHL affiliate from Binghamton to Utica at the beginning of last season, potentially leaving a void in a solid hockey market. The city’s main arena, the Visions Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds about 4700 people for hockey games, currently hosts a team in the Federal Prospects Hockey League, though franchises in that independent pro league aren’t exactly known for their longevity.
Binghamton University also recently completed a $60M stadium renovation for their baseball program, which was funded through an anonymous donation, so they’re willing to make major investments in their athletics program.
The timing also feels right for a smaller eastern school like Binghamton to add a program. Between new additions of independent programs like Long Island and Stonehill, as well as a rumored move to Division I for Utica College, there’s likely to be some major shuffling which may make it easier for the Bearcats to land in a conference home.
Plus, if the impending collapse of the NCAA leads to individual conferences gaining more power, being a member of the America East conference along with four other schools that currently have D-1 hockey—Maine, UMass Lowell, New Hampshire, and Vermont—gives Binghamton some strong allies.
That’s not to say it would be easy for Binghamton to add a men’s hockey team. It’s always a costly venture to undertake such a major operation. But during a period where a number of schools are making a jump to Division I hockey, Binghamton seems well-suited as a candidate to join them.