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UND ATHLETICS: UND may need to bump hockey backing

If the NCAA’s high-resource athletic conferences are allowed to offer “full cost of attendance” scholarship packages soon, UND wants to make sure the school’s lucrative men’s hockey team has that option, as well.

A proposal to grant autonomy to the Power Five conferences — which includes the Big Ten — is expected to pass the NCAA board of directors in an August meeting and then be put to a vote of the full NCAA membership in January.

One of the key issues in the autonomy movement is athletic scholarships, which the Power Five conferences would like to boost.

A full scholarship currently covers room, board, tuition and books. But an additional $2,000 to $5,000 could be paid annually to cover expenses such as transportation, laundry and clothes. This is termed the “full cost of attendance” measure, which would vary from school to school based on estimated expenses and cost of living.

UND is making sure its men’s hockey program can play on the same recruiting field as the Big Ten programs like Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, as well as Boston College, Notre Dame and Connecticut.

“If we’re going to recruit against those schools, don’t we need our coaches to offer the same benefits?” UND athletic director Brian Faison said. “We have to be able to compete with them. We have to offer the same type of package. We’ll have to deal with that and it’ll cost.”

UND men’s hockey coach Dave Hakstol said the athletic department has already held discussions on the topic.

“I think we’re informed on a lot of the issues,” Hakstol said. “We’re going to work hard, as we always do, to do what’s in the best interest of our student-athletes and do everything we can for them within NCAA rules.

“We’ve had clear communication within our administration. There are challenges ahead, but we’ll meet those challenges and do everything we can for our student-athletes and do everything we need to do to keep our program on a level playing field with everyone else.”

UND is attempting to be proactive in the process, although the details of the legislation remain unclear. The implications to Title IX are a concern, as well.

“We’ll monitor it, and we’re already looking at what steps to take if that situation does arise,” Faison said. “It would be nice if that picture was more clear. It’s hard to know. It’s going to be an interesting time.”

Faison didn’t say whether UND was considering cutting any programs, although he said the athletic department will provide the full support to its spotlight sports.

“We’re not going to back off hockey, basketball, football, volleyball,” Faison said. “We’re looking at how we can make sure we’re doing what we’re allowed to do.”

Big Sky commissioner Doug Fullerton also feels the conference needs to look at the full cost of attendance for basketball.

“I think we’d chase some of it in basketball,” Fullerton said. “That’s a place we recruit against (the Power Five conferences). In football, our conference places a lot of guys in the NFL, but we don’t really recruit against (the Power Five).”

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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