NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y. – In order to strengthen existing competitive opportunities and ensure sustainable future success for the Department of Athletics, Niagara University has announced a restructuring of its intercollegiate athletics program following a study by Atlanta-based firm Collegiate Consulting.
The restructuring includes the addition of women’s track and field as a varsity program and the immediate contraction of the women’s ice hockey program. Niagara’s track and field program will begin competition during the 2013-14 academic year. In addition, money will be invested into the university’s women’s lacrosse program to meet the standards outlined by the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).
“Niagara University has a proud history of competition in the NCAA, and any change to our programs are taken very seriously and reviewed completely. Today’s announcement is no exception,” said Jeff Holzschuh, chairman of the board of Niagara University. “We understand the disappointment for these young ladies, their families, the coaches and the fans of women’s ice hockey. We will always be very proud of all of the young women who have competed as Purple Eagles on the ice for Niagara University.”
The decision takes into consideration recommendations made in a 2012 study by Collegiate Consulting, a nationwide athletic consulting firm, done jointly with an internal assessment conducted by the university administration, at the direction of the Niagara University Board of Trustees.
The restructuring will bring funding per sport in line with MAAC member institutions and peer institutions at the Division I level. In addition to financial impact, the decision also factored the sport’s history of competitive success, history of philanthropic support and ability to serve as a marketing and enrollment tool for the university.
The university will sponsor 18 teams at the NCAA Division I level after the changes. All but one sport (men’s ice hockey) competes in the MAAC. The men’s ice hockey program competes in the Atlantic Hockey conference.
The contraction of women’s ice hockey affects 20 current student-athletes. The student-athletes participating in women’s ice hockey who choose to continue their undergraduate education at Niagara University will receive their athletic scholarships for a period equal to their remaining eligibility. The Department of Athletics will grant immediate releases to student-athletes who choose to transfer and compete for another university. The addition of women’s outdoor track and field will bring approximately 35-40 new student-athletes to Niagara University.
The restructuring results in the elimination of three full-time coaching positions from the women’s ice hockey program and the addition of four full-time coaching positions in women’s lacrosse and track.
Niagara University athletics serves more than 320 student-athletes, as well as more than 2,000 students in club sports and intramurals.