The University of North Dakota will cut its women’s hockey program at the end of the 2016-17 academic year—along with men’s and women’s swimming and diving—due to a decrease in state funding, according to athletic director Brian Faison on Wednesday.
According to the Grand Forks Herald, “The decision to cut the sports was based upon the university’s budget reduction instruction, conference sport sponsorship requirements for both the Big Sky Conference and Summit League, Title IX compliance, additional Summit League scholarship requirements and the ability to reinvest in championship-level programs.”
An official statement from the school said the athletes will be allowed to keep their scholarships.
Though women’s hockey has only been a program at UND since 2002, the team has been fairly successful, boasting eight 2014 Olympians. There are currently at least five players on various rosters for the 2017 IIHF World Championships, including Team USA’s Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux.
The announcement came as a blow less than a day after the USWNT and USA Hockey struck a deal to increase funding and promotion for the players and the growth of the game. Rumors of the financial trouble began circulating weeks ago, but insult was added to injury when news of the cuts leaked on social media before the university notified the players.
“UND sports shame on you for not having the decency to communicate with the staff and players before anyone else!” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson tweeted after the news broke.
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association also released a statement:
— WCHA Women’s Hockey (@WCHA_WHockey) March 29, 2017