As part of ongoing budget restructuring efforts, the University of North Dakota announced yesterday (Wednesday, March 29) that it will be cutting its women's ice hockey and men's and women's swimming & diving programs, effective at the end of the current academic year.
“I have accepted the athletic director’s recommendation with the understanding that it provides for investing in championship teams in a balanced manner for both our women’s and men’s athletics programs,” said UND President Mark Kennedy. “This is a painful step to take for all parties involved, including me, but it is necessary given today’s budget realities. My heart goes out to all those who are disrupted by this change. We are proud of the way they have represented UND.”
Statement from the WCHA – Following the announcement in Grand Forks, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association published a statement from Women’s League commissioner Katie Million. Here’s an excerpt:
"Today's developments are excruciatingly sad for the University of North Dakota, the WCHA and the sport of women's hockey. While we understand the significant, state-mandated budget cuts faced by the entire University and respect the decision-making process of the UND administration, there is no denying the impact of losing a program that has produced Olympians, advanced to NCAA tournaments and is a perennial fixture in the national rankings. Our collective hearts ache for North Dakota's current and incoming student-athletes, for the school's alumnae and fans, for head coach Brian Idalski and his entire staff, and all involved with the program."
Our reaction – Similar to what Gopher head coach Brad Frost shared on Twitter, we are saddened by this news. We send best wishes to the Fighting Hawks players, coaches, and staff as they evaluate their options for the future.
Outside of having one less team in the WCHA, there are additional impacts and ramifications on the conference and NCAA Division I women's ice hockey that will be identified and addressed as we progress through the off-season. We'll continue to monitor and share related news as it becomes available.