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Is Nebraska Considering Division 1 Hockey?

In September 2010, Penn State announced that they would be adding Men's and Women's varsity ice hockey and be the 6th team in the Big Ten. That fueled speculation of a Big Ten hockey conference (which will come to fruition in 2013) and of other B1G schools adding the sport.

Minnesota head coach Don Lucia, whose team plays the University of Nebraska-Omaha this weekend, was asked this weekend about the possibility of the University of Nebraska adding the sport and was thought it would be a natural fit. This was picked up by the Nebraska SB Nation blog Corn Nation who gave their two cents on the possibility earlier today.

Offhand, I think that it's more possible than before, but still not not likely. The new Pinnacle Bank Arena in the Haymarket is going to be capable of hockey, and the 12,700 expected capacity for hockey would be more than adequate for division 1 hockey. Men's hockey will become a Big Ten sanctioned sport in 2013 when Penn State joins Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Ever since the Big Ten decided to make their hockey programs B1G, people have speculated about other schools adding hockey.

Lincoln's support of the Stars in the United States Hockey League (averaging 4,000 fans a game at the "Ice Box", a converted building near the Devaney Center on the former State Fair Park) certainly leads credence to the idea that hockey could work at Nebraska. Likewise, the success Nebraska-Omaha has had in hockey (averaging almost 8,000 fans a game last season) shows that hockey can be a big success in this area, even though hockey is not a traditional Nebraska sport.

Nebraska would have to find a financial backer like Penn State - the Nittany Lions received an $88 million donation from Terry Pegula to build a new arena and start the program - in addition to Title IX concerns. There is more than enough room, however, for more Big Ten hockey programs and of any B1G school the Cornhuskers look to be in the best position with a new arena and existing fanbase based on the unscientific poll results (73% say yes).

Regardless, it's an interesting debate on both sides and one that could see the Gophers end up with another new opponent.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.