Never, and I mean never, could NY's budget crisis have come at a worse time for UB Athletics. Warde Manuel and company are doing everything they can to grow the existing programs with both economic and political constraints handed down by those mental deficients in the state assembly (I'm looking at you Glick and Silver).
I had come to peace with Albany's selfish, greedy, and ultimately self defeating power hording this last session. I grew up in the state so I saw it for what it was, a powerful political machine so dominant in the state that they would not risk any change, no matter how much it might benefit the university system. I was at peace with it, until I saw this.
Penn State is moving up to division one hockey, pushed by an 88 million dollar private donation PSU will add men's and women's hockey. This would be the perfect time for UB to get a division one team going. The shakeup created should PSU and other Big Ten teams decide to ditch the CCHA is more massive than anything from this summers 'Big10 Palloza, or WAC smacking'.
I am rather ignorant of the political alignment of college hockey but I would guess that if the CCHA loses Michigan, OSU, MSU, and perhaps Notre Dame (to the Big 10 or elsewhere) they are going to try to reload, its a forty year old conference and there is life there.
Now I don't think anyone is going to come and throw 88 million at Warde Manuel so how, exactly, could UB pull it off and why would it be worth it?
The how is pretty simple. UB might not have an on campus ice rink but there is one that even I could hit with a stone thrown from a campus lot.
The Amherst Ice center is currently used by UB's ACHA men's team (non scholarship). The largest rink seats eighteen hundred people which, if sold out, would be higher than a third of current programs. The rink, whose parking lot is about 500 feet from Campus, would cost about eleven thousand dollars a year for 20 home games (yes I called them to ask).
Division one hockey teams are allowed 18 scholarships by the NCAA, about two hundred thousand in scholarships at UB if Dorms, food, and fees are included). A head coach can run you about three hundred thousand, and three assistants match that. That's 600 grand for coaches, two hundred grand for scholarships, and 11K per year for the rink. Throw in Equipment and you're probably at nearly one million a year which is not obscene as far as NCAA teams go. UB would not make this back on ticket sales, but no sport at the university, and few at any university, actually make money.
So what would be the benefit of adding hockey? Well Buffalo is a hockey town, and Western New York / Southern Ontario are actually considered pretty respectable recruiting grounds. That combined with the potential for local rivalries like Niagara, Syracuse, and RIT is enticing.
One thing to consider is this; Would starting division one hockey at UB be more, or less difficult than it was to (re)start division one football a decade ago. We are in a solid region for the sport, we are culturally a hockey town, and there are ties to other institutions with whom we already share some athletics rivalry.