On March 24, 1984, Bowling Green beat Minnesota-Duluth in four overtimes to claim a national championship. Since that title and Holzinger's award-winning season, the Falcons' program has fallen on some hard times ... none harder than what they are facing right now.
Reports surfaced Wednesday that the one-time national power is in danger of vanishing from existence.
All university departments have been asked to develop a variety of scenarios regarding budgets and programs. The school believes it is looking at a funding shortfall of between $6 million and $10 million when the new state budget begins July 1. University president Carol Cartwright has said that if that figure worsens, cuts in programs will be need to be made.If Bowling Green goes through with this and eliminates the sport, they'd be the first NCAA Championship-winning hockey program to get cut.
Rumors suggest the decision to cut hockey could be made final during a special meeting of the BGSU Board of Trustees sometime during the next week to 10 days. Kielmeyer, however, said he was "not aware" of any special meeting. The board's next scheduled meeting is April 23.
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Cartwright was rumored to have made a recommendation that cutting hockey be one of the options. University trustee Michael Marsh denied that was the case, and said that decisions on alleviating a large budget shortfall would come from the athletic director Greg Christopher.The Falcons haven't had a winning season since 1996-97, two years after Holzinger departed. In fact, they've only posted one .500 season since. It's been almost 20 years since Jerry York, now the coach at Boston College, led Bowling Green to their last NCAA Tournament. Legendary Michigan State coach and former MSU athletic director Ron Mason coached at Bowling Green in the 1970s.
"I will say that everything is on the table because of the severe financial situation. I'm not one that wants to limit opportunities for young people," Marsh told the Sentinel-Tribune. "The (athletic program) has lost three-quarters of a million dollars this year in spite of our best efforts. That can't continue. The academic departments know they are in for severe changes and athletics can't be treated any differently."
NBC/Versus broadcaster Mike Emrick received his Doctorate in radio/television from Bowling Green, and he's not the only alum with ties to the NHL.
As the program's on-ice fortunes have turned the wrong way, the school has fallen way behind in the facilities race. BGSU Ice Arena, which opened in 1967, is considered one of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's worst facilities. A plan that was originally going to put $16 million worth of renovations into the facility was slashed to $12 million, then $4 million, and then was eliminated altogether.
Active players in the NHL who went to Bowling Green include Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa and Phoenix Coyote Ken Klee. Dan Bylsma, who took over for Michel Therien as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 15, also played at Bowling Green. In addition, four current NCAA Division I head coaches went to Bowling Green, including their current coach, Scott Paluch, and Ohio State's John Markell. Clarkson coach George Roll, also an alum, provided a bit of hope to College Hockey News:
"I don't think the program has been supported like it needs to," Roll said. "Just from things I've heard. Being there this year (with Clarkson), the rink clearly needs work.If you're one of the many who use Facebook (check out the FanHouse page while you're there!), there is a new group set up to drum up support for the Bowling Green program. You can check out the Save BGSU Hockey group here.
"There's a lot of talk amongst alumni in the last couple days. We're doing what we can."
College hockey has had to endure the recent loss of fringe programs like Iona, Fairfield, and Findlay. With all due respect to the three, it would be an awful day if Bowling Green were to eliminate their hockey program. It's not what it used to be, but losing a former championship-winning program could end up being a big blow to the sport.