UND cuts women’s hockey program

Hockey is pretty big in Grand Forks. But not for women. Not anymore.

The University of North Dakota sent eight players to the Olympics in women’s hockey. Five more players are heading for the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship. Ten might play in next February’s Olympics.

But, no woman will ever again play hockey in Grand Forks.

The school is shutting the program down. It’s one of the most successful in the country.

“A decision has been reached that allows us to address the requested reductions in budget, conference sports sponsorship requirements, Title IX compliance and a desire to raise our level of competitiveness across the board,” athletics director Brian Faison said in a statement.

“UND will honor all athletics scholarships for these discontinued sports at their present equivalencies for returning student-athletes,” he said, adding the school will assist student-athletes who want to transfer.

The players didn’t learn of the news from Faison, however.

Former UND and Olympic star Jocelyne Nicole Lamoureux-Davidson, who played one season for the University of Minnesota and three for the University of North Dakota, blasted the decision, and the leaks to the media before the team was told.

Lamoureux-Davidson, and her twin sister, Monique, are credited with creating a powerhouse program at UND, when Jocelyne transferred from Minnesota. Other talented female players soon followed.

North Dakota went 16-16-6 in the most recent season, losing to Wisconsin in the Final Face-Off semifinals, 2-to-1.

The decision shakes the very foundation of women’s hockey in the United States. Katie Million, commissioner of the WCHA, called the decision “excrutiatingly sad,” and said there’s “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.”

UND’s athletics department has been in a spiral since state funding was cut.

UND President Mark Kennedy, a former Minnesota congressman, ordered $1.3 million to be cut from the athletics budget. That’s slightly less than the total budget for the women’s hockey program.

“It provides for investing in championship teams in a balanced manner,” Kennedy said in a statement.

Today’s announcement comes a day after the U.S. women’s national hockey team and USA Hockey agreed to a new contract on Tuesday to avert a players boycott of the World Championships that begin on Friday. The players protested inequitable treatment of the women’s programs.

The Grand Forks Herald says the men’s and women’s swimming programs will also be eliminated.

A year ago, UND shuttered its baseball and men’s golf program, but reinstated the golf program when “external funding” was found.

The school’s remaining women’s sports lineup includes basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field, and volleyball.

  • Will

    How can UND do this? Which men’s sports are being eliminated… doesn’t this violate title ix???

    Congrats to the US national women’s ​hockey team for standing up for their economic rights.

  • fromthesidelines21

    Talk about a mismanaged state budget. Huge surpluses just a few years ago due to oil revenue and now severe deficits. The refusal to consider raising any tax at any time eventually brings pain to somebody. So far it isn’t the politicians.

    • Jim in RF

      Yep. The gang that talks about how government should budget like a family does (which is untrue) doesn’t even do a good job of following through on the misapplication. Rainy day funds and endowments make very good sense, for governments and families alike.

    • MrE85

      UND’s president is former MN Congressman Mark Kennedy, so you just can’t get away from politics in this one.

      It doesn’t help that the ND legislature meets only every two years. That doesn’t give them the ability to pivot quickly, if circumstances change. And they always do.

    • rover27

      The budget would still probably be OK but they went on a tax cutting spree. Cut the oil extraction tax, cut the corporate income tax, cut the already low personal income taxes mainly on the top end. These cuts are costing the state millions of dollars a day.

    • D.Robot

      Though I’d like to see women be able to play intercollegiate hockey, I don’t like public funding for sports at pro or college level, men or women. Also, Those of us who get post secondary education shouldn’t have to pay for the semi pro system of sports that exist at universities.

  • Gary F

    Big time D1 sports need big time D1 alumni and booster clubs. That’s how the game is played. In Grand Forks, there isn’t the base to fund this stuff at a D1 level.

    Besides the arena, how much money was the Englested family giving to the athletic department? Now? and say 10 years ago?

    • ec99

      Englestad didn’t give the arena to UND, it pays $2.5 million a year to lease it. It’s owned by a private corporation.

      • Gary F

        Wikipedia says the Ralph E foundation owns it and leases it to them for $1

        • ec99

          The $1 myth has been repeated ad nauseum. A good example that Wikipedia is not accurate. The 2015-16 UND Expenses and Revenues Report to the NCAA states the correct figure, which also happens to be about what hockey lost that year.

  • Gary F

    Is the athletic department seeing fewer donations since the name change?

    • John O.

      I’d be willing to wager that is the case. Even though I bleed maroon and gold, I know several UND alums who aren’t contributing any longer. And won’t.

      • Gary F

        The corporate base for fundraising in Grand Forks in nothing compared to other D1. schools. The TV revenue for the other sports that UND has is nothing compared to other D1 schools. The development office has a tougher job getting money out of alums because they usually don’t stay in Grand Forks. And the development department must also raise money for new buildings where they actually teach school.

        Its a fine college and has, and had great hockey programs, it just cost money, and most of the money for the sports department are generated by the sports department.

        • ET

          Historically, I don’t think the school had too much trouble raising funds from key alumni, both in and out of the Greater Grand Forks Area. After the name change, those funds have dried up.
          People are genuinely upset about having to change the name, but would have been on board if the school had handled the name and logo selection processes better. The school alienated the alumni and now have to deal with the fall-out.
          In another astonishing decision last year, the music therapy program was cut from the academic side. Music therapy actually GENERATED REVENUE for the school, but the powers that be decided this program was expendable.
          My wife and I both graduated from UND (she Music Ed, me in Commercial Aviation). We won’t be donating to any part of the school until they can get their act together. We’ll see how long that takes.

  • Jeannie Myers

    Let’s see. Title IX. Oh! Have to get rid of UND’s men’s hockey to equalize???

    • Sieve6

      I understand being upset but seriously? That’s not how it (Title IX) works. I’d be willing to bet at a minimum the men’s team generates enough revenue to cover their costs. Men’s programs have been cut too. It’s sad and unfortunate for those athletes, female and male. I’d be curious to find out how many “administrators” will be losing their jobs due to the budget cuts. I wish good luck to all the affected student-athletes moving forward. Hopefully they at least complete their educations whether at UND or elsewhere.

      • 212944

        According to the paperwork the school filed with the NCAA cited in an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed in November 2015, men’s hockey is still in the red by about $1.5m for 2014. For that, revenue included student fees, institutional support, ticket sales, merch, dividends from endowments, etc … basically, every thing. Similarly, expenses includes everything as well (salaries, scholarships, travel, tape and pucks). (http://www.chronicle.com/interactives/ncaa-subsidies-main#id=table_2014)

        As an athletic department, for 2014, UND balanced their $23m budget with about $10m of institutional support and student fees.

        But very, very few D-I athletic departments balance the books without money from the schools and/or student fees.

        • Sieve6

          Thanks for the info. My assumption was wrong. From an outsider’s view it seemed the support (fan support, attendance figures, etc.) for the men’s team would have been enough to cover the expenses. The 1.5m shortfall even after institutional support and student fees was actually shocking to me. I know most athletic programs are dependent on the university for support as a whole. The few that do not, rely on one and in very few cases two sports as well as donations from large alumni bases. Thanks again for the info.

  • Jerry

    That’s a big disappointment for the women involved in the program, and I’m sorry it happened to them. Personally, however, I would like to hear more about the financial context in which this happened. It sounds like this team was good at winning games and producing athletes. Was it good at making money, too? After all, the mission of a university is to provide education and research, not entertainment. The purpose of a big athletic program is to finance the more important work.

    • And here is that mission statement:

      UND’s Mission Statement
      The University of North Dakota, as a member of the North Dakota University System, serves the state, the country, and the world community through teaching, research, creative activities, and service. State-assisted, the University’s work depends also on federal, private, and corporate sources. With other research universities, the University shares a distinctive responsibility for the discovery, development, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge. Through its sponsorship and encouragement of basic and applied research, scholarship, and creative endeavor, the University contributes to the public well-being.

      The University maintains its original mission in liberal arts, business, education, law, medicine, engineering and mines; and has also developed special missions in nursing, fine arts, aerospace, energy, human resources, and international studies. It provides a wide range of challenging academic programs for undergraduate, professional and graduate students through the doctoral level. The University encourages students to make informed choices, to communicate effectively, to be intellectually curious and creative, to commit themselves to lifelong learning and the service of others, and to share responsibility both for their own communities and for the world. The University promotes cultural diversity among its students, staff and faculty.

      In addition to its on-campus instructional and research programs, the University of North Dakota separately and cooperatively provides extensive continuing education and public service programs for all areas of the state and region.

  • fromthesidelines21
  • Title IX and intercollegiate athletics:

    https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/interath.html

  • John O.

    I looked for the NDSU equivalent of this report, but could not quickly find it. Chris Long from KSTP tweeted a summary of this report yesterday to give you an idea how the numbers work out for the Gophers. The “Big 3” men’s sports subsidize the whole enchilada.

    http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/minn/genrel/auto_pdf/2016-17/misc_non_event/2016NCAAReport.pdf

    • 212944

      The Gophers Athletics Department is still benefiting from nearly $1 million in direct Institutional Support (line 4 of the Revenue/Expense Summary of that document) and just over $6 million of Indirect Institutional Support (line 6) to balance the books for 2015-’16.

      Like most D-I athletics departments, the University of Minnesota relies on money from the school to operate.

      You can pull an older report for NDSU (2013-’14) at:

      http://www.chronicle.com/interactives/ncaa-subsidies-main#id=table_2014