Story of the Week
The most interesting college hockey news this week was the announcement that the women’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association has set up a crowd-funding site in an attempt to raise money to cover some league-wide costs. The NCAA Division I conference was hit hard by the announcement that North Dakota was eliminating its women’s program. With the abrupt departure of one team from an eight-team league, the math gets a lot harder for the other seven, who have to make up for the loss of income from North Dakota. Crowd-funding might seem unorthodox, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it (Nafio compared it to kids selling candy to buy classroom supplies, and I think the comparison is apt). However, I think Katie Million’s decision to try a proactive route with fundraising before the conference finds itself in trouble or loses another team to budget cuts is a smart one.
The usual strategy for this type of fundraising is to seek corporate sponsorships, and while that’s certainly not a bad idea, pro women’s leagues have shown that it’s not always easy to find and develop relationships with sponsors. At the very least, it takes time, while crowd-funding has the benefit of making money immediately. As of yesterday, the WCHA fundraiser has raised about $2,200 in less than a week.
Crowd-funding also has the advantage of a wider reach. The WCHA hasn’t only produced hockey players from the Upper Midwest, but has developed current national team players from Canada, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. WCHA grads currently playing for their national teams include marquee names like Natalie Spooner (Ohio State), Hilary Knight (Wisconsin), and Noora Räty (Minnesota). Those are the sort of names, and the sort of influence, that could be used to leverage an event like the Olympics in support of a crowd-funding initiative.
The WCHA is considered the premier conference in women’s college hockey, and for good reason—the only non-WCHA school to win a national title is Clarkson University, who’ve done it twice. There’s a wide-ranging base of women’s hockey fans who care a lot about the WCHA’s solvency, and it’s not limited to people who can attend their home games and help fund the program through ticket revenue. Thanks to Title IX, we frequently take adequate funding for women’s college hockey for granted—an effort to ensure financial security for the strongest conference in the NCAA is worth our attention.
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ed note: since not all transactions have been written up over the last couple of weeks and some, people wanting to be up to date as of yesterday should probably have a look
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AWIHL news: 26 July 2017 | Ice Hockey News Australia
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