The Penn State Icers may soon fade into history with the Pittsburgh Hornets as sources are reporting that Penn State is expected to announce plans for men's and women's varsity hockey programs as early as Friday.â†µ
With an enrollment of approximately 45,000 students at its State College campus, including nearly 39,000 undergraduates, Penn State would become the second-largest institution in the United States to offer Division I men’s college hockey—only Ohio State, with more than 52,000 students at its Columbus campus, is bigger. The Nittany Lions would become the 59th Division I men’s hockey program.â†µ
“It is great for the sport,” WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod said, while stopping short of confirming the plans. “A program of that stature to potentially add a Division I men’s hockey program is an exciting thing for the sport.”â†µ
Rumors of an announcement started swirling a little over a month ago when the Altoona Mirror reported the University plans on building a $60-$80 million dollar arena somewhere near the Bryce Jordan Center.â†µ
Penn State currently fields "team" hockey programs for both men's and women's hockey, affectionately known as the Icers. The teams are a step above "club" status, but are not full fledged NCAA programs, either, instead playing at the ACHA Division I level.â†µ
Both teams, currently housed at the small Greenberg Ice Pavilion on the east side of campus near the Nittany Apartments and Lasch Football Building, are a big draw on weekends and are popular with both students and locals alike. The current rink is about the size of Bladerunners in Bethel Park, far too small for a D-I program. It's clear the excitement has outgrown the old barn, and adding varsity teams will only build the excitement among hockey crazy fans from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh craving some big time puck in their college town.