The rumors are true. Penn State University will ice men's and women's hockey programs at the Division I level beginning in the 2012-13 season. The University announced their plans on Friday morning.
The dreams of many in the PSU athletic community, who have wanted to make this jump for years now, have been fulfilled by a very generous private donor. Terry Pegula and his wife Kim, who have made their fortune in the natural gas industry, have donated $88 million to the school for the construction of a new, 6,000 to 8,000 seat hockey arena on the State College, PA campus.
The construction is expected to be completed by December 2013. Here's a quick glimpse at the proposed floorplan, courtesy of the University.
Click to enlarge.
Hockey is currently played at the club level, where the Penn State Icers have experienced moderate success in their history. As the team makes the jump to NCAA athletics, though, the question once again comes up: will the Big Ten create their own hockey conference?
Athletic Director Tim Curley admitted as much in a statement.
"We're very proud of the success that our ACHA club hockey program has achieved, and this gift will allow us to take the sport to a completely new level at Penn State," said Tim Curley, director of Penn State's Intercollegiate Athletics. "Thanks to the Pegulas, we will be able to enter NCAA competition in 2012-13. Penn State's launch of Division I hockey will lead to additional competition within the Big Ten, and that has the potential to transform college hockey in this country. Penn State also plans to launch a Division I women's ice hockey program."
For now, the Nittany Lions will first take the ice as an independent in 2012. It'll certainly be interesting to see where this goes from there.