When did UND Athletic Director Brian Faison and President Mark Kennedy really decide to cut women's hockey?
More than a week has passed since the team got the axe, but the arguments surrounding the move still are missing the mark.
The UND Athletics Department should be embarrassed that it was not able to develop a larger following for women's hockey, considering the assets UND has access to-Ralph Engelstad Arena, Olympic talent and the loyalty of UND hockey fans.
Why has the department escaped unscathed, given that its marketing strategies, tactics and financial management so obviously failed?
Budgetwise, the team was able to be competitive because the department let the coaches develop world-class athletes, but that was where the support ended. When it came to actual attention to growth, the team was treated by the department as, at best, a burden.
To develop a sports following, it's essential to add value to the experience-off- and on-ice promos, small-group discounts and so on. Ask anyone who attended a game about the lackluster and overused intermission entertainment segments.
The marketing and promotional efforts that were needed to improve the fans' experience were never there. Even worse, UND had 15 years and millions of dollars to change it up.
But you don't want to pay someone to come up with ideas, you say? Fine; start a class in the Sports Business program, and ask students for input. And you can't get students to come to games? Do a better job of targeting Grand Forks fans.
Look no further at the success of the St. Paul Saints, a team that's in direct competition with the Minnesota Twins.
Want to complain about lack of attendance at the most recent WCHA playoff game? The flyers that were put up around campus were produced and distributed by the players, because they were left responsible for getting people to go to their games.
In short, the support that's needed to grow a sport was never there. Or at least, that's what my UND marketing degree taught me.
The coaches, staff and athletes did their part. It's time to shift the focus to the department and administration, because it sure feels like the UND women's hockey team was cut long before March 29.
Humsey, a 2016 UND graduate, is a former UND men's and women's hockey student assistant equipment manager.