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Jeff Kolpack, Published April 11 2009

Taylor: NDSU won't add hockey

The question of Division I hockey at North Dakota State has been discussed since the 1980s. The answer Friday was still no.

School athletic director Gene Taylor reiterated that his department will not field a hockey team in the foreseeable future, saying it needs to address in-house issues first. NDSU, along with Minnesota State University Moorhead and Concordia College, was approached by the Metro Sports Foundation about adding the sport.

Taylor pointed to several reasons, but said the most notable issues – financing and facilities – make it a closed-door topic.

“We have major facilities issues,” he said. “If you’re trying to raise money for that, hockey and other programs, something is going to fail.”

NDSU is in the process of raising funds to remodel the Bison Sports Arena, a project that includes basketball locker rooms and a practice facility. Plus, the school is trying to raise at least $15 million for an addition to the Fargodome that would be home to its men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“Add both of those in the mix, and we’re talking over $40 million we have to raise,” Taylor said. “One of them has to be done. We cannot move forward until the BSA is renovated.”

He said there is evidence this year of some decline in corporate giving and private donations, probably because of the economy.

“People expect a pretty high level of success,” Taylor said. “We just don’t see that we have the resources.”

Taylor also questioned the financials of the budget proposal the MSF put together, which estimates the school could raise $857,850 in Team Makers funds and another $300,000 in general contributions.

“That’s almost $1.2 million just for hockey,” he said of the fundraising. “We’re $2.1 (million) for everything else. Either it will take away from some of that $2.1 (million) we’re currently raising or you will not raise as much as you think you are for hockey.”

Also, he said funding a women’s program would cost $600,000 to $700,000, something NDSU would have to do because of Title IX.

“There’s no getting around that,” Taylor said. “Some schools have a different mix of men’s and women’s programs. If we added 20 men’s (scholarships), we’re way out of whack.”

NDSU’s athletic budget this year is just over $12.1 million. Taylor said he’s asked his coaches to hold steady on any increases in their respective budgets.

Finances aside, Taylor said assuming the WCHA would add a start-up program could be risky. He has not been contacted by anybody from the league. NDSU thought it was close to Big Sky Conference membership at one point and reportedly got into The Summit League by a narrow margin.

Moreover, the veteran athletic director still isn’t sold that there’s a broad base of hockey support in the community.

“Those passionate hockey fans believe there is,” he said. “I am not thoroughly convinced of that. I don’t know. I do know this: If you’re not very good, there’s not going to be (good support), I can promise you that.”

Inforum searchword: hockey

Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 10 a.m. to noon on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia