The Atlantic Hockey blog mentions that the University of Rhode Island is being considered by league brass to replace the University of Connecticut, which is moving its Division 1 hockey team into the Hockey East.
The Atlantic Hockey Conference is known as a stepping stone conference for colleges moving up to Division 1. Quinnipiac, for example, started in Atlantic Hockey and is now a national power that plays in the ECAC conference along with such Ivy League schools as Brown and Yale, which won the national championship a few weeks back over Quinnipiac, Yale’s New Haven neighbor.
The problem is URI officials have no interest in upgrading the current program from club status to a varsity sport in either men’s or women’s hockey, says URI sports information director Mike Lepray. ``We’re not pursuing adding either men’s or women’s hockey to varsity status.’’
URI has a fine hockey rink, the Boss Arena, that could accommodate a hockey upgrade. But there would be a substantial financial commitment involved for URI, including hiring coaches and providing a dozen or more scholarships needed to put competitive varsity teams on ice.
URI is seen as a natural fit for varsity hockey someday. Rhode Island has a decent base of hockey fans and URI is the lone state university in New England without a varsity hockey program. The universities of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut all play Division 1 hockey and are in the Hockey East conference.