BEHIND THE DESK
BY BARRY ALVAREZ // UW DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS
Big Ten hockey means big-time opportunity
anticipate a lot of excitement by
our fans for Big Ten hockey. Listening to Mike Eaves talk about
it the other day, I know that he feels
like his players are really excited to
play in new venues.
From the standpoint of name
recognition, it's going to be exciting
to play Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State in addition
to our long-standing rivalry with
Minnesota. Add those schools to
the future non-conference series
we've scheduled with North Dakota,
Denver and Colorado College and
other traditional WCHA rivals, and
we will be able to have a top-notch
schedule every year.
With the Big Ten, fans can identify with the schools and I see it as
a real positive for college hockey,
especially since there will be a lot
more national television exposure
for the sport through the Big Ten
I recently talked with some
people from Penn State and they all
said that their new $90 million ice
arena on campus is just awesome.
I believe it will seat over 6,000 and
I'm sure they'll fill it.
Growing up in Pennsylvania,
I know how popular pro hockey
has been in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. So there's no question in
my mind Penn State fans will get
behind their program.
I've been asked if there's any
chance for future expansion in Big
I suppose it's always a possibility.
Over the years I've had conversations with former Illinois athletic
director Ron Guenther on whether
VARSITY October 10, 2013
their club hockey program, which
has been very strong, would ever be
ready for the next step.
I don't know that answer. But
hockey is being played elsewhere in
the Big Ten footprint.
I know that you can find junior
hockey teams playing in Iowa and
Nebraska. I also know NebraskaOmaha has a very solid college
The Big Ten has added Johns
Hopkins as a men's lacrosse-only
member in 2015 to join the league
schools that play it: Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State and
I don't know if some hockey programs would be a fit with the Big
Ten or if there will be any expansion. But if you're asking me about
hockey in this conference, I think it
has a bright future.
Everyone feels like we've got a
good chance to be a very nice team
this season. I've heard Mike talk
about the advantages of having so
many returning players, including
both of his goalies.
To be honest, I still don't know
how these hockey coaches deal
When you go out and recruit really good players, the next thing you
know they're leaving school early
and signing pro contracts. That
seems to be inevitable.
But if you don't recruit and sign
those players ― for however long
they're going to stay ― they'll go
someplace else and you'll wind up
playing against them.
You're darned if you do, darned if
All I know is Mike is happy with
the group he has coming back and
our fans should be excited about
watching them play against more
Big Ten opponents. Should be fun.