Sauer – the sixth-winningest coach in college history
– writes a bi-weekly column for Inside College Hockey.com.
"The Dean" was the head coach for 31 years at Colorado
College and Wisconsin, where he won two national titles. Sauer
retired at the end of the 2001-02 season. He was the 2003
Snooks Kelley Award winner for contributions to U.S. hockey
and ranked 16th on INCH's list of the all-time greatest
college hockey coaches.
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The Dean's List by Jeff Sauer
With the holiday
season upon us, the college hockey season is a quarter over for
most teams. It's been a season full of excitement and surprises.
And it's terrific to watch the game grow.
There is an issue out there in the that could affect the continued
growth of the sport in the near future. Proposal 2-69 is a proposal
to be voted on by the full NCAA Division III membership at its annual
convention in Nashville Jan. 12. The proposal is one element of
a broad reform package proposed for Division III: a provision that
would prevent any Division III schools from awarding athletic scholarships,
even in sports in which they participate at the Division I level.
What does Division III politics have to do with Division I college
hockey, you say? It would have a large impact at four tradition-rich
schools – Colorado College, Rensselaer, Clarkson
and St. Lawrence, programs which have combined to make 57 appearances
in the NCAA Tournament. At least one of the four participated in
each of the first 17 Frozen Fours.
Currently, Division III schools that "play up" in Division
I in certain sports, such as those four in hockey, are allowed to
grant athletic scholarships in those sports. Four other schools
across the country would be affected by the proposal, including
Johns Hopkins, a power in lacrosse.
As a former player and coach at Colorado College this issue really
hits home with me. I know of the rich heritage CC has in hockey
and how the first 10 Frozen Fours were held in Colorado Springs
at the legendary Broadmoor World Arena long before the national
championship was called a Frozen Four.
As a former
athletic director at CC, I recognize the philosophy behind the legislation,
too. I understand the thought process. But I think there can be
some middle ground.
I know things have changed since I was at Colorado College. I played
baseball and hockey and that went against the thinking that if an
athlete received a scholarship in one sport (hockey), he shouldn't
be able to participate in a sport that doesn't offer aid. But times
have changed. Things have evolved.
If the non-hockey playing schools look at this issue, they can see
that in reality all schools offer aid. While CC, Clarkson, RPI and
St. Lawrence offer athletic scholarships, many D-III schools award
grant-in-aid packages or have scholarships that are endowed by alums
or benefactors. There is nothing wrong with this. They are in keeping
with the academic and athletic philosophies set down by college
presidents and administrators.
Colorado College can afford to offer athletic scholarships. Other
schools can't, but should CC be punished for this? With rising tuition
costs, I can see the day that many schools won't be able to afford
to fund athletic scholarships and would have to go to grant-in-aid
programs, but that's an issue for another column. For now, CC and
the others have chosen to keep alive hockey programs that are important
to the fabric of their schools.
One of the things people love about college hockey is the ability
for the little guy to compete against the big boys. Last year, Peter
Sejna from Colorado College won the Hobey Baker Award as the game's
top player. In the mid-1980's, Rensselaer won the national championship.
Joe Marsh had St. Lawrence in the 2000 Frozen Four. Clarkson made
nine NCAA Tournament appearances in the 1990's.
Hockey schools have been busy educating non-hockey playing Division
III members why it should overturn the recommendation of the NCAA
Management Council and President's Council. Hopefully, member schools
will look at the big picture and understand that the hockey tradition
at places like Colorado College, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence and Clarkson
meshes with the outstanding academic tradition of the schools and
defeat this legislation.
This week's Ask The Dean...
What do you think about the idea of the WCHA expanding its
current 28-game league schedule to 30 or 32 games? As the schedule
stands now, each team in the league does not get to see the full
complement of WCHA teams in their building each year. The addition
of two more league series each year would help the situation immensely.
Have you heard anything on this issue and, if so, what are the chances
of it happening?
Longtime Sioux fan Dan
I agree with
you. I would love to see a WCHA schedule where each team played
an equal number of games against each team. I think the players
would like that. I know coaches would like it and fans would like
it. I am on a WCHA committee studying scheduling and trying to make
things equitable from the standpoint of travel and competitive balance.
But unless the NCAA allows teams to play more games in a season,
it is nearly impossible to change the current setup. Teams have
tournaments in their buildings and want to play non-conference games
so unless the NCAA changes its current position –
and there is no indication that will happen – I can't
see an expansion in the number of WCHA league games in the near