Whether we want to admit it or not, the NHL has a serious issue when it comes to displaying diversity. There are only 34 active Black hockey players in a league that’s been around for 105 years and still sees white players occupying team rosters at 97%.
Tennessee State University is making one small step towards substantially changing those stats by announcing their Tigers will be welcoming ice hockey to its athletic program in 2024. It marks the first time that a HBCU will introduce college hockey at its school.
Just a few hours ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville yesterday (June 28), TSU Athletic Director Dr. Mikki Allen made the official announcement that a men’s club hockey team will kick things off for the 2024-25 season. Once they’re established, plans for a women’s division will go into motion, in addition to achieving NCAA Division I status by 2026-27.
More on how the road towards putting the Tigers on ice came together below, via The Tennessean:
“The path toward Wednesday’s ground-breaking announcement spans two years. In May 2021, TSU announced a feasibility study, which the Predators financed, to explore costs, requirements and local interest in hockey on the HBCU campus. By February 2022, TSU and the Predators collectively announced a fundraising campaigned titled the, ‘TSU Friends of Hockey Fundraising Team.’
The fundraiser was installed to support student-athlete scholarships, an on-campus venue, as well as travel and equipment. Allen said in February that the on-campus venue would store at least one sheet of ice. Allen elected not to disclose a fundraising figure at the time.”
The program still needs a Director of Club Hockey Operations to handle day-to-day oversight, which will be spearheaded by TSU assistant athletics director Nick Guerriero in the meantime. “This partnership serves as a catalyst, driving change and ensuring that the game we love embraces the beauty of diversity,” Allen said in a statement, and we couldn’t agree more.
Black ice isn’t looking so bad after all.
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