It looks like NCAA Women’s Hockey may have a new school joining the sport in the next few years.
Earlier this week, LIU Post listed a new employment opportunity on its “Careers” website searching for a Head Women’s Ice Hockey Coach, seemingly (quietly) announcing its intent to add women’s hockey to its list of varsity athletics programs. The Pioneers currently offer 19 sports playing in Division II of the NCAA.
LIU Post (not to be confused with Post University of Waterbury, Connecticut, who just added D-II women’s hockey for the 2016-2017 season), is located in Brookville, New York. They do not have a women’s club program, but they do have a men’s club team playing in the ACHA’s Great Northeast Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The new job listing on LIU Post’s website makes it clear that the new Women’s Ice Hockey Coach position would be for a new NCAA D-II program – though it’s possible that the team may begin as a club team in the short term:
The Long Island University Post department of Athletics is seeking a Head Coach for Women’s Ice Hockey as it builds to an NCAA Program. This is a full-time administrative staff position responsible for all phases of the organization, administration and coaching of an NCAA Division II ice hockey program. This includes, but is not limited to, the recruiting of prospective student-athletes, supervisor assistant coaches, scheduling of practices and competition, and working effectively with both internal and external constituencies of the University. Additionally, this individual will be responsible for monitoring the academic progress of the team’s student-athletes, auditing information from academic support services, and ensuring compliance with the conference, NCAA, and University rules and regulations.
There are currently six D-I and D-II independent hockey programs – Holy Cross, Sacred Heart, Saint Anselm, Post, Franklin Pierce, and Saint Michael’s – playing in a temporary “scheduling alliance” for the 2017-2018 season. Holy Cross will be joining Hockey East in 2018-2019, leaving only five unaffiliated teams. However, there are rumblings that a few schools in addition to LIU Post may be adding D-II women’s hockey programs in the near future, with the medium- to long-term goal of forming a 6+ team conference and applying for an Automatic Qualifier (AQ) into the NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament.
That could make for an interesting future for the tournament. Currently, the NCAA sponsors a combined D-I and D-II national tournament, though until this season no D-II (nor D-I Independent) teams have played an eligible schedule to be selected, let alone be ranked high enough to qualify. That would change with a D-II conference AQ bid, leaving only three at-large slots if the tournament would remain at eight teams, or even leading to tournament expansion.
But that’s only speculation at this point and would be several years down the road, in any case. In the meantime, LIU Post’s move to add women’s hockey certainly seems to be more than rumor with a formal job posting already listed specifically referencing the addition of a Division II women’s hockey program. It will be interesting to see if there will be other dominoes to fall in the future.