RMU WEBSITE - Robert Morris University announced today it will no longer field NCAA Division I men’s and women’s ice hockey teams as part of a series of strategic initiatives intended to position the university to be amongst the most agile and professionally focused schools in the nation as it prepares for its upcoming 100th anniversary.
The university’s senior leadership team shared these strategic initiatives, collectively called “RMU: Beyond 100,” at the RMU Board of Trustees annual retreat last week.
The university will honor all scholarships currently being received by the student-athletes whose sports are being discontinued and will assist those who wish to transfer. Under NCAA rules, student-athletes who transfer from schools that have eliminated their sport do not have to sit out a season at their new school. The university has pledged to put all of its support services at the disposal of student-athletes, including academic, eligibility, and career advising.
Let's start out by saying I am the MOST pro RMU guy you will find. I am a proud alumni that loves to support the school, and I even donate money to the athletic department. I love that place - That is why I am so PASSIONATE about the issue below.
Just an absolutely sad decision by RMU to cut these programs with little or no notice today. As an alumni, I was always a blind supporter fanboy...like to the extreme. I wear the colors and back the school up on their decisions 99% of the time. Well not here. This takes the wind out of me BIG time. Never have I seen a decision that was so universally hated by alumni, current students and most importantly - potential donors.
I supported the school when they cut other sports in the past, but those decisions also came with a very strategic explanation on why they were made. That didn't happen here. This was a decision that was hidden from even the coaching staffs and was shared last minute after a retreat via a quick zoom meeting and press release. Cowardly.
I have already seen people that are fans and supporters of different schools go after each other - which honestly sucks. As alumni there should be 0 reason for us to fight because at the end of the day we should want ALL of the teams do well. I shouldn't love hockey and hate football, or love basketball and hate lacrosse etc. But RMU has done a BAD job of combating that for a long time now. I acknowledge the challenges that the department faces. It is flat out hard to try and get good community engagement in a town that boasts other large D1 schools and many professional level sports. That's why I think it's important for a school like RMU to lean on what makes them the most diverse.
Hockey was one of those things. Division I ice hockey is not nearly as prevalent as a sport like basketball. It's a costly sport, and only a handful of schools give fielding a program a try. In recent years we have seen new programs start and flourish. Penn State comes to mind, along with Arizona State, LIU and others. RMU has had a 15+ year start, and were never able to figure out how to make hockey important. They have similar challenges with all of their sports. I've talked about it with plenty of people involved. I am a die hard RMU basketball fan, and often times people go after that program because it is seen as the only program the school likes. If that were true, there would be more people in the stands - but it's hard to get support for a team that has 4 other D1 competitors within a 1.5 hour drive.
Maybe there will be more to come on this, and I just typed a bunch of jumbled mess. But I will leave you with this....this decision is heartbreaking and an absolute shame. I have no idea where things go from here, but there is already a petition to get them to reinstate the programs if you want to take a look at that HERE.