The hockey program which has appeared to be near death, got a boost this week when the Ohio school announced a $5 million fund raising campaign. Bowling Green does have a Division I title, beating Minnesota Duluth in four overtimes in the 1984 championship game in Lake Placid, N.Y., although, things haven’t gone particularly well for the Falcons in the 25 years since then. Here’s a report from Friday’s Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune:
Kevin Gordon, Sentinel-Tribune
Bowling Green’s hockey program is safe.
The university announced Friday it is starting a campaign to raise $5 million for the Falcon hockey program and BGSU Ice Arena.
“We are committed to hockey at BGSU,” said university president Dr. Carol Cartwright. “It is apparent that the hockey program is a treasured part of our history, and we have assured our former and current hockey players and the community that the program will continue.”
The program had been targeted for elimination because of the budget crisis facing the university, including a deficit of about $750,000 in the athletics department last year.
The hockey budget is approximately $1 million and generated just $200,000-250,000 income last year.
The $5 million campaign is the result of a fundraising feasibility report, by Bentz Whaley Flessner. The majority of that $5 million will be for scholarships during the first 18 months.
The report was presented to Cartwright this week. The university also had a committee, headed by former BG coach Jack Vivian, study the future of the arena.
“This campaign will be a top priority for me,” Cartwright said. “The reality is that there is a direct relationship between the success of the campaign and the success of the program.”
The fundraising campaign will be overseen by university advancement. According to Marcia Sloan Latta, interim vice president for university advancement, the campaign will begin immediately.
“Over the next 18 months, we hope to raise $2 million for hockey scholarships,” Latta said. “We will establish a campaign committee, identify a chair or co-chairs, determine an overall campaign plan and secure the necessary leadership gifts.”
The campaign will continue beyond the 18 months to raise additional money, Latta said.
“With the extremely difficult economic times in Ohio and the nation, we have decided to focus our efforts on making the necessary improvements to the Ice Arena and putting the hockey program on sure footing,” Latta said.
“We view this as a multi-phase effort that will allow us to launch further endowments as the economy rebounds,” Latta added. “The fundraising effort for hockey will need to be a group effort, from alumni, Falcon supporters and the local community. We hope the community will be eager to join the effort.”
The university also has committed $4 million in capital funds to renovate the arena. That money will be used to upgrade the compressors, chillers and infrastructure.
Additional improvements will be considered based on the arena’s business performance and the interest of private donors in supporting the arena. The Falcon program also is seeking other improvements through donations to the program, including luxury seating and suites.
“That will take care of the basics,” Cartwright said of the $4 million.
Since winning the NCAA championship in 1984, the Falcon program has steadily declined. BG has finished last in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in three of the last four seasons, including last season when it was 11-24-3 overall and 8-19-1 in the league.
Cartwright said the $2 million for scholarships will get the campaign “out of the box with a fast start. That will give us a level of success in a short period of time.”
The hockey program has the full NCAA allotment of 18 scholarships.
“Our former players, who were part of our interview groups, have told us they want to get this done,” Cartwright said.
It is hoped the fundraising and the arena renovations will help BG re-emerge as one of the top programs in the country. But Cartwright said the long-term funding level for the program hasn’t been determined.
BG’s hockey budget “is at least 25-30 percent, and maybe a little further” below the other schools in the CCHA, athletics director Greg Christopher said.
The arena also has been allowed to become one of the worst buildings in the country.
Christopher said, based on figures from strategic planning done by the athletics department two years ago, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State are in top group of the CCHA when it comes to hockey budgets.
“We want to have a competitive, successful program,” Cartwright said. “We’ll see how far this campaign takes us.”