This past June, the University of Illinois announced that they would be taking some money from the NHL to conduct a feasability into starting a Division I men’s hockey program.
The results of any type of feasability study seemed obvious to anyone that has paid attention to college hockey. In fact, they seemed obvious to the guy commissioning the study, Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman. The Illini would need a rink to play in and a boatload of money to get a program started to make it work.
But still, they took all that money from the NHL, so it seemed like the type of thing somebody should write down, and on Friday, the results of what they wrote down was released to the public.
The full report of Illinois’ hockey feasability study can be found here.
Ultimately, there is very little in the report that wasn’t stated by Whitman last June. The Illini are looking for a new facility in downtown Champaign that would seat 5000-6000 people. The facility would house Illinois’ hockey, volleyball, gymnastics, and wrestling programs, and would also include an additional one to two sheets of ice.
Whitman was non-committal about the possibility of adding a women’s hockey program last June. The Illini would likely need to add another women’s sport if they add men’s hockey, and the report makes one reference to adding another women’s sport, but no other specific mention of women’s hockey(though the money for the study was specifically marked for men’s D-1 hockey).
The rest of the document contains a lot of information that isn’t necessarily ground-breaking, but is an interesting look into the finances of some of the other Big Ten schools, and some of the costs that go into a Division I hockey program.
As for what this document means for the future of Illinois hockey? Not all that much. It tells us much the same of what we already knew last June, and even before that. If Illinois can find a way to get a new arena built, and get a whole bunch of money to fund their program, they’ll be happy to start one. But finding that money is much more difficult than putting ideas down on paper.
It’s an interesting idea and would be good for college hockey, but we’ll have to keep waiting to see if it comes to fruition.