Oakland University selected by NHL to participate in feasibility study

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Oakland University selected by NHL to participate in feasibility study

Skylar Tolfree, Sports Editor

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The National Hockey League (NHL) announced that Oakland University has been selected as the second school to participate in its feasibility study project. The announcement was made on Monday, Oct. 16 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

The study will include five universities throughout the country. The other school to announce participation in the study is the University of Illinois.

“The goal of this program is to take schools that are serious about exploring adding Division I men’s and women’s hockey and giving them some tools and numbers,” said Vice President of Business Development and International Affairs for the NHL, Kevin Westgarth, during the press conference.

Simply, this means the NHL is funding a study that will be looking into the possibility of bringing NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey to Oakland’s campus. However, this does not guarantee that the university will get NCAA Division I hockey, just that the possibility is being considered. The results of the study will be more telling regarding the next steps forward.

“This is quite a day for Oakland University,” said Oakland University Athletic Director, Jeff Konya. “We are really excited about going through this process and exploring what options are available for us.”

If Oakland moves ahead after the study is finished and begins a Division I program, it will be the only university in the state of Michigan to offer a women’s Division I team. This would also put the women’s team in league with some of the best teams in the country.

“I grew up here”Said Little Caesars AAA alumna and NWHL Boston Pride player, Brittany Ott. “Today’s news that Oakland University is trying to get  Division I programs for both men and women is an incredible step forward and an exciting time for the state and for the game of hockey in Michigan.”

If the results of this study show that hockey would work on Oakland’s campus, a lot of young women may have the chance to stay local to play the sport that they love. Right now, any hockey playing-women in Michigan have to move somewhere else to pursue a professional or college career.

“These feasibility studies which are a crucial component to the development of the game,”  NHL Players Association Representative Chris Campoli said. “We believe that NCAA hockey can be a big part of the development and future. We’ve seen the NCAA playing a big role of the growth of hockey in the United States.”

Within an hour of the announcement being made, the story was trending on the NHL website. The Detroit Red Wings also put out support for Oakland on its Twitter page.

“This is something that the NHL and Red Wings definitely support,” Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said. “It would bring college hockey to Metro Detroit, and it would make my commute a lot shorter on scouting trips.”

The feasibility study was already underway before the official announcement was made, the first draft of the results are expected in November. The Oakland Post will continue to post updates as the information becomes available.