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MSUM pushes deadline for Division I hockey until August

Minnesota State Moorhead officials said Thursday the school's decision on if it will add Division I ice hockey has been moved from December to August.

Minnesota State Moorhead officials said Thursday the school's decision on if it will add Division I ice hockey has been moved from December to August.

"I'm just extending it out so we can do it right and not so rushed," said MSUM President Edna Szymanski.

"It's interesting because I think this is a positive step. There's nothing that I have seen that tells me I should pull the plug on this. What I have seen tells me that I should take my time."

The NCAA could put up a hurdle that stops MSUM - which is Division II in all its current sports - from starting D-I hockey.

The Division I Leadership Council met earlier this month to discuss standards to have in place when the Division I membership moratorium is scheduled to be lifted in August 2011.

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One of the proposed standards discussed in that meeting is to not give Division II and III members the ability to move up in a single sport.

Division II and III schools that already have that setup would be allowed to remain.

The Council is scheduled to meet again in January at the NCAA Convention in Atlanta and put together a report that will be sent to the Division I Board of Directors and given to the membership for feedback.

Szymanski and MSUM athletic director Doug Peters both plan to be in Atlanta for the convention.

"I think it will give us a good idea of where the membership is leaning, especially regarding some of the Division I challenges regarding membership," Peters said. "Obviously, it's a challenge that's out there. Does it scare me? No. Legislation comes and goes all the time. Rules change as things evolve. If there is a true desire within ice hockey at the Division I level to grow, that is a good sign for us."

Szymanski said moving the decision to the end of summer could also help in the fundraising effort.

Donors may be willing to commit more money if the economy rebounds.

"I run into people who say ... 'I would give you more after the economy turns a little bit.' " said Szymanski. "So they're going to feel a little bit more comfortable as the economy is on the upswing."

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Szymanski said she is still "guardedly optimistic" that MSUM will be able to start men's and women's ice hockey programs.

"At this point, the decision I will give is either we're ready to do it now or maybe later," she said. "It's looking too good to me to say that it's not going to happen, although that still is a possibility.

"From what I've seen right now, I can't see that I'm going to be pulling the plug in August unless something happens with the NCAA or unless there is some sort of other major problem."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Related Topics: HOCKEY
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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