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Robert Morris President Chris Howard Says There Are No Plans To Bring Back Men's And Women's Ice Hockey Teams

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- Robert Morris University President Chris Howard said there are no plans to bring back the school's NCAA Division I men's and women's ice hockey teams.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Howard addressed the school disbanding the two programs last week.

"Ice hockey has been our most expensive D-I sport due in part to low ticket sales and limited donations, as well as having no access to things like guaranteed game opportunities, conference revenue or television contract payouts," Howard said Tuesday.

"We considered several options for sustaining D-I ice hockey in the long term," Howard added. "It would require $5 to $30 million in facility upgrades, with no guarantee of attracting the kind of corporate support needed to secure that investment."

In a news release on May 26, RMU says the moves are "intended to position the university to be amongst the most agile and professionally focused schools in the nation." RMU says it will honor all scholarships that current student-athletes are on and will help assist those who wish to transfer.

Of eliminating the sport of hockey, RMU wrote in last week's release:

"The decision to discontinue the men's and women's ice hockey programs was made based on an analysis which included scholarships and operating costs, and the necessary investments to maintain and improve the current facility. The university also wanted to align our athletic offerings more closely with other similar nationally-ranked universities of our size."

The university says approximately 55 student-athletes and seven staff positions are impacted by the elimination of the programs.

The Robert Morris hockey program has hosted the Frozen Four at PPG Paints Arena twice now, including the 2021 tournament just a few months ago.

The women's team also produced goaltender Brianne McLaughlin. She was brought on to Team USA's women's ice hockey team for the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

The news led to former players and the community speaking out. A petition started to save the teams got more than 16,000 signatures.

"Just disappointment overall, almost disgusted," Dyllan Lubbesmeyer, a former RMU ice hockey player who just graduated, told KDKA.

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is no longer on the Board of Trustees at Robert Morris University.

According to the Tribune-Review, Colbert resigned. In Tuesday's press conference, Howard thanked Colbert but did not address his resignation.

Colbert graduated from Robert Morris in 1979 and joined the board in 2011.

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