by: Mariah Guzman
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – In early March, the University of Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman hinted at good news coming in regards to the potential of Illinois adding an NCAA men’s ice hockey team to its athletic program.
But on Monday, Whitman told reporters that this Division 1 Men’s program has “hit the pause button”.
According to Shannon Ryan at the Chicago Tribune, Whitman said he was about a month away from announcing the formation of the program, but the COVID-19 global pandemic put the project lower on the totem poll.
“We were really close on the hockey thing,” Whitman said to the Chicago Tribune. “We continue to remain very excited about the project, very optimistic about its future, particularly the impact it would have on our community. There are some people who have suggested it could be a very helpful reignition to Champaign-Urbana and to helping our economy get back following the pandemic.”
While Hockey may not be a top priority, the idea isn’t completely thrown out the window. But for now, the athletics department has to put its focuses elsewhere.