Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Arizona State Moving to NCAA Division I Hockey

Arizona State University is apparently moving up to the big time on ice.

According to a report at Fox Sports Arizona, the Sun Devils will be the latest school to join the NCAA Division I men's ice hockey ranks, thanks to a $32 million donation from private supporters led by Milwaukee businessman and ASU alumnus Don Mullett.

ASU will become the 60th NCAA Division I men's hockey program, and the first in the state since Northern Arizona dropped its Division I team in 1986. ASU will also have to add a women's athletics program to satisfy Title IX issues.

ASU won last year's American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I national championship, its first in school history, finishing the season 38-2-0. The ACHA is comparable in terms of talent to NCAA Division III.

As with Penn State, which began its NCAA Division I program in 2012-13 after years as a national club power, ASU plans to wade slowly into the NCAA waters, playing a mix of ACHA and NCAA schools beginning in the 2015-16 academic year. The plan is to then become an NCAA Division I independent the following season, and then finally join an existing league, most likely the National Collegiate Hockey Conference or the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Current ASU head coach Greg Powers, who has recruited several players from the USHL to Tempe, is expected to remain on as coach. It is not exactly known where the Sun Devils will play their home games once they transfer to NCAA Division I, although it could be the the 40-year-old Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, current home of Sun Devil basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling.

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