Compiled by D3hockey.com staff
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Earlier this morning, Rochester Institute of Technology announced that its women’s hockey program will be moving to Division I beginning in the 2012-13 season when it will commence play in College Hockey America (CHA).
"This is an exciting day for the RIT family as we unveil plans to elevate a women's team to the Division I level," says RIT President Bill Destler in an official release. "We're honored to be joining College Hockey America and to be associated with the exceptional schools in this conference. Today's announcement is a significant milestone for the program and the university."
|The RIT women finished this season 28-1-1 and took home the their first national championship.|
RIT has sponsored women’s hockey since 1975 and has grown into one of the most successful Division III women’s programs in the nation since the NCAA began officially sponsoring women’s Division III ice hockey in 2001. Since 2001, RIT has posted a 223-60-16 record and made three national tournament appearances. In the past five seasons under current head coach Scott McDonald, the Tigers have rolled to a 118-13-8 record and recently wrapped up their 2011-12 campaign at 28-1-1 en route to the program’s first ever national title.
"We are very excited to make the move to Division I," said McDonald in the release. "We see the success the men have had at this level and want to mirror that. We are excited to play new teams and foster new rivalries. The support we receive from the university is second to none."
The RIT men's team made the leap to Division I in 2005 and the women likely would have followed much sooner, but a four-year moratorium on moving programs to Division I was enacted in 2007. Though the moratorium is now expired, RIT still faced an uphill battle as Division III schools remain prohibited from "playing up" in Division I unless its entire athletic department were to reclassify as Division I. For RIT, that would have been a time consuming and likely cost prohibitive process.
To get around the play-up prohibition, RIT petitioned the NCAA Administrative Council and proposed a waiver that would allow programs with existing men's Division I programs but not women's to move its women to Division I. The waiver was ultimately granted with a June 1 deadline, and RIT executed the necessary procedural requirements in short order to facilitate the move prior to the deadline. The ability to play immediately in CHA assisted highly in this regard.
CHA was created in 2002 and is comprised of Syracuse, Mercyhurst, and Robert Morris, though Penn State and Lindenwood will begin league play in 2012. The Tigers will immediately be a full-fledged member of CHA and will be eligible for the league postseason.
"This is a momentous event in the history of RIT women's ice hockey," explained Lou Spiotti, RIT's Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. "We are very proud to be accepted into such an elite grouping of colleges and universities in College Hockey America. A debt of gratitude goes out to all those who have helped to make this happen, including our president and his leadership team, our trustees, our coaches, fans and the many hockey alumni who have contributed to our program."