Q&A With … Illinois AD Josh Whitman

College Hockey News from CHN

June 12, 2018

Adding Hockey is Closer, But Still ‘Long Way to Go’

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor (@CHN_AdamWodon)

Many people in college hockey, not to mention fans, are always wondering when some theoretically obvious large schools will add varsity hockey. Particularly with the Big Ten, there is plenty of room for growth. But despite relatively large interest in seeing it happen, hockey is a notoriously difficult sport to add, thanks largely to the expense of building an arena. Penn State was able to do it, and endow its scholarships in men’s and women’s hockey, thanks to a $100 million-plus donation from Terry Pegula, now owner of the Buffalo Sabres and Bills.

Illinois has made no secret about looking into adding hockey, including taking part in a feasibility study with the NHL. But looking into it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. There is still a ways to go.

Fundraising towards a new arena needs to reach $50 to $60 million, according to Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, and the school has already started to find donors. If they continue to go well, he said he hopes to green-light a new program by the end of this calendar year. However, there is a still a long way to go, Whitman said.

CHN: How far away are you talking still with fundraising?

Whitman: We’re many, many, many millions away. We have a long way to go on the fundraising side. We’re still optimistic we can get there. We’ve started to get some traction and had a number of nice gifts come through the door, but obviously to get a project like this one off the ground, it’s going to require a pretty significant influx of capital. Even though we’ve had some success early, we have a lot more road to travel before we get where we need to be.

CHN: You’ve said you were ” …

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