Hockey sets goal on NCAA acceptance

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Matt Gregorio

D.J. Shoffstall, Copy Editor

Pitt-Johnstown’s Ice Cats team members said they would welcome a chance to become an NCAA team.

Team captain David Kutzer said it would be a great opportunity to be considered more than a club sport and said he thought it would bring better athletes to UPJ.

“If we were a school team, we could recruit people by offering scholarships instead of just having tryouts,” he said.

A club sport is something students start and is overseen by the student life director, according to Athletic Director Pat Pecora.

“Only women’s soccer started as a club sport and turned into a school sport,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean the hockey team couldn’t become a school sport, but we have to abide by Title IX (of the Educational Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964), and right now we are in those guidelines.”

Pecora said title IX requires universities to have a certain number of men and women athletes, according to the school’s enrollment.

“We need to have at least 10 sports teams because we are in Division II, and we have 12. We enroll more guys in the school, but the men’s teams have larger rosters, so we actually have more women’s teams with seven.”

The Ice Cats are in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The hockey association is the governing body for hockey teams that are not NCAA-sanctioned.

One difference between the association and the NCAA is that NCAA- sanctioned teams are completely funded by the school the team plays for, according to Ice Cats coach Dave Layman.

He said, while the school doesn’t pay for everything like it would for  an NCAA-sanctioned team, it is generous in the Ice Cats’ funding.

“The university pays for about half of our expenses (through student activity fee proceeds),” he said. “Sometimes a weekend trip will cost the team $5,000. To not have to pay all of that helps out a lot.”

Layman said it cuts down on how much the  team members have to pay to play, which is $700 per person.

“In other universities, athletes have to pay up to $2,000 a year to play hockey. Because UPJ pays 50 percent, and we do fundraising, the kids don’t have to pay near as much as they would.”

Starting goalie Dave Dunkleberger said he would like for the Ice Cats to be considered a team instead of a club.

“I think we should be known as a team,” he said. “We have to be full-time students and have a minimum 2.0 (grade-point average) to play. We also follow NCAA rules and travel outside the state to play sometimes.”

Layman said he could see his team becoming part of the NCAA, but says there are reasons why it hasn’t happened yet.

“We play games out of state, but most of our games are against teams close to us. If we became an NCAA team, the closest team would be in Newman, Pa., close to Philadelphia, and there are only three NCAA teams in Pennsylvania total.”