UPDATE: The University has met with the players and coaches, and has issued a press release making this news official. The program has been cut effective at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year. They will not field a team for the upcoming season.
Official press release on the cutting of UND women's hockey and both men's and women's swimming. pic.twitter.com/htXjB4dUbe— Brad E. Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) March 29, 2017
According to Todd Milewski USCHO & the Wisconsin State Journal, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux will be cutting the sport of women’s hockey, among other sports, due to reductions in the school’s budget.
I'm hearing that women's hockey is out at North Dakota, which is cutting sports to address a budget crunch.— Todd Milewski (@ToddMilewski) March 29, 2017
Women's hockey team has been called to meet with AD Brian Faison at 2:45 p.m. Hearing that swimming staff also will be at the meeting.— Brad E. Schlossman (@SchlossmanGF) March 29, 2017
This is not official word, but there is expected to be an announcement at 3:30pm CT (4:30pm ET).
This had been rumored for several months now. The University saw a drop in funding from the state, which required campus-wide cuts in programs. At least a couple (or more) sports are expected to be part of the cuts, with women’s hockey reportedly on the list.
This is obviously bad for the sport in general. North Dakota is one of the strongest teams in the country, routinely finding itself in the top 10 in the national polls, and plays in the WCHA. They’ve also made it a habit of beating powerhouse Minnesota on an almost annual basis and have become quite a thorn in the Gophers’ side.
In addition, they have had several players make it onto past and current US National Team rosters.
This would have far reaching effects, not just at North Dakota and the WCHA, but nationally. One less strong team out west would see a bigger talent pools for the already-strong programs out west, which would give Boston College an even tougher uphill climb toward that elusive national title. It could also cause ripple effects for conference realignment. Might the WCHA add a team — such as Lindenwood, in the CHA — to keep at an even number of teams? And so on down the line.
Several current and former North Dakota players — including a current sophomore on the men’s team — have tweeted out their frustration.
They call UND a hockey school for a reason... that includes men's and women's. #Ridiculous— Shane Gersich (@shane_gersich9) March 29, 2017
Shocked. Crushed. From a complete high over the USWNT's success to such a heart wrenching loss.— Marissa Salo (@msalo14) March 29, 2017
It remains to be seen exactly when the program will be cut, but expect big changes in the women’s college hockey landscape over the next few seasons.