RIT announced today none of their winter sports, including women’s hockey, will play in the 2020-21 season, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
They are the first Division I school to outright cancel their entire hockey season.
The Tigers play in the CHA and had at some point planned to play, based on their inclusion on RMU’s schedule released earlier in the day. According to the release, “RIT leadership felt the obstacles were too high to play during a global pandemic.”
This leaves five teams in the CHA - three in Pennsylvania (Mercyhurst, RMU, and Penn State), one in New York (Syracuse), and one in Missouri (Lindenwood). Based on RMU’s schedule, each team was set to play the other schools four times each for a total of 20 games. This would leave the remaining school with 16 games.
RIT’s announcement does note that the NCAA is allowing student-athletes to retain their eligibility.
Hockey - both men’s and women’s - is RIT’s only Division I sport. The others play in Division III’s Liberty League, which cancelled all of their winter sports as well. Four ECAC schools - Clarkson, Union, St. Lawrence University, and RPI - are also in the Liberty League.
Last week, Clarkson announced a four-game series with fellow ECAC member Quinnipiac. Their athletic department made no mention of hockey in their Liberty League cancellation. RPI also made no comment about their hockey season. Meanwhile, Union said they had no decision had been made on hockey, and SLU said they intend to play.
A common issue for hockey conferences that have schools that are largely DIII mixed in with DI schools is the gap in testing ability and capacity. The WCHA mitigated this by mostly separating their NSIC and Big 10 schools in the first month of their schedule, which they released last week. Hockey East announced their start date as Nov. 20, the same day as WCHA and what RMU had on their schedule as their start as well.