Robert Morris Cuts D1 Men’s & Women’s Hockey

Robert Morris University announced today it will no longer field NCAA Division I men’s and women’s ice hockey teams as part of a series of strategic initiatives intended to position the university to be amongst the most agile and professionally focused schools in the nation as it prepares for its upcoming 100th anniversary.

The university’s senior leadership team shared these strategic initiatives, collectively called “RMU: Beyond 100,” at the RMU Board of Trustees annual retreat last week.

robert morrisThe university will honor all scholarships currently being received by the student-athletes whose sports are being discontinued and will assist those who wish to transfer. Under NCAA rules, student-athletes who transfer from schools that have eliminated their sport do not have to sit out a season at their new school. The university has pledged to put all of its support services at the disposal of student-athletes, including academic, eligibility, and career advising.

“We are saddened for the student-athletes who will be unable to continue in their sport at Robert Morris University and are committed to assisting them during this difficult time,” said RMU President Chris Howard. “However, this is the best course of action to leverage our strategic assets and position us for future growth.”

RMU remains committed to NCAA Division I athletics, and continues to field 15 Division I sports. By discontinuing Division I ice hockey, the university puts itself in closer alignment with similarly sized institutions. Approximately 55 student-athletes and seven staff positions will be impacted by this decision, which is effective immediately.

The decision to get rid of the men’s and women’s programs sparked a lot of debate on social media, particularly in regards to the women’s hockey team. Since its inception in 2005-06, the Colonials have seen rapid growth, winning its College Hockey America tournament three times and making the NCAA women’s college hockey tournament twice. Under head coach Paul Colontino, RMU has gone 182-122-41 and sent multiple players to play professionally.

Men’s hockey coach Derek Schooley has been the Colonials bench boss since the team began in 2004, going an even 275-275-68 in that span with two Atlantic Hockey championships, one Atlantic Hockey Tournament title, and one NCAA men’s tournament appearance.

In a link on its website, the university explained how it determined to eliminate ice hockey.

“The decision to discontinue the men’s and women’s ice hockey programs was made based on an analysis which included scholarships and operating costs, and the necessary investments to maintain and improve the current facility (Island Sports Center),” officials wrote. “The university also wanted to align our athletic offerings more closely with other similar nationally ranked universities of our size.”

Robert Morris acknowledged the “negative impact” covid-19 had on its finances, but it stated, “(covid-19) was not the primary factor influencing our decision.”

Robert Morris will continue to compete in 15 Division I sports.