RIT To Division I, Atlantic Hockey in 2006-07
to stay true to its academic mission while also fielding a competitive
team, the Rochester Institute of Technology announced Wednesday
that it will elevate its hockey program to Division I status and
join Atlantic Hockey for the 2006-07 season.
has arrived,” athletic director Lou Spiotti said.
a Division III power, will replace Quinnipiac, which is leaving
Atlantic Hockey for the ECACHL after this year. RIT will begin
its transition by playing roughly 20 games against Division I
teams next season, then begin league play the following year.
It won’t be eligible for the conference or NCAA postseason
tournaments until 2007-08.
commissioner Bob DeGregorio extended the invitation to RIT after
visiting campus with Canisius athletic director Tim Dillon last
month and a subsequent 8-0 vote for admission by league ADs (Quinnipiac
was not part of the process).
Dr. Albert Simone said he held reservations about making the publically
wished-for jump to Division I for most of his 13 years in charge
of the school. But Atlantic Hockey’s package finally swayed
concerned about some of the behaviors of some schools in Division
I, and I still am,” said Simone, who initiated the relationship
between RIT and Atlantic Hockey with an exploratory letter to
DeGregorio this summer. “But we found a conference that
shares the same values we have, which is, No. 1, the academic
success of our students. And we feel we can be competitive in
RIT is 7-2-1
overall and 3-1-1 in the ECAC West this season. The Tigers won
national championships in 1983 and 1985 and have been the runner-up
three times, most recently in 2001. Because hockey will be its
only Division I sport, RIT will not be allowed to offer athletic
Wayne Wilson, a member of Bowling Green’s 1984 Division
I national championship team, said Wednesday’s announcement
will give “a real boost of energy” to campus and the
Rochester, N.Y., area as a whole.
Rochester, with a population of more than 200,000 people and a
metro area of about 1.2 million, had been the second-biggest American
city without a major professional or NCAA Division I sports team
(behind Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).
promise not to let you all down,” Wilson said.
upgrades, such as refurbishing the visiting locker room, are planned
for Ritter Memorial Arena, a recently renovated on-campus building
that seats 2,100 and will instantly become one of the top venues
in the league. Even as a Division III school, RIT enjoys better
attendance than all Atlantic Hockey programs except Army.
Dillon also envisions using the nearby Blue Cross Arena, home
of the AHL’s Rochester Americans, for regular-season and
postseason tournaments. Blue Cross will host the NCAA East Regional
picturing a doubleheader between two Atlantic Hockey teams and
two ECAC teams there,” Dillon said. “We can test operations
for the regional and also plant the seed locally that hockey is
coming. And I think we could pack the place.”
As for Atlantic
Hockey’s future, school president Simone seemed to drop
a major hint when he thanked the other eight and “maybe
soon to be nine”
schools in the league. The AHA has long been reported to desire
at least 10 members. College Hockey America programs Robert Morris
and Air Force often crop up as possibilities, as do Division II
schools such as St.
Anselm and schools that don't currently have varsity hockey, like
Navy or Rhode Island.
DeGregorio was vague when Simone’s slip of the tongue was
of things have been reported, but nothing is official as of yet,”