MSUM ready to dish lots of loot for college hockey

MOORHEAD -- Minnesota State Moorhead would spend more than $1 million a year in coaching salaries and benefits if it starts a Division I hockey program.

MOORHEAD -- Minnesota State Moorhead would spend more than $1 million a year in coaching salaries and benefits if it starts a Division I hockey program.

In documents The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead obtained from MSUM through an open records request, the university would pay a head men's hockey coach $240,000 and a women's head coach $120,000 in salaries in the program's first year.

In comparison, Minnesota-Duluth head coach Scott Sandelin recently signed a five-year extension with a base salary of $235,000 after his team won the Division I men's national title.

"We're trying to do this at an extremely high level so that we can we can be successful," MSUM athletic director Doug Peters said.

Contributions necessary


For MSUM to start men's and women's hockey, the university needs $37 million in commitments to support an endowment model business plan. MSUM President Edna Szymanski has said the endowment model was chosen because if the school adds hockey, "it can't put a risk to the taxpayer and tuition dollars."

Peters said the next step is to get to 80 percent of the overall goal -- that's $29.6 million -- by January. The school announced in July that it had $15 million in soft commitments, about 40 percent of the goal.

Peters said that MSUM hasn't added to the $15 million figure, but feels there has been progress since the summer update.

"I think we have a very strong pipeline of donor prospects and we are very confident that we will reach our interim goal of about 80 percent by the year end," Peters said.

Peters said the university has talked with about 150 potential donors since the July news conference.

"I'm confident in the pipeline that we have created," Peters said. "We have to convert that into commitments.

"We haven't sat down with anyone and had them say 'This is a dumb idea.' Everybody feels it's a right idea and it's a good idea. It's just a matter of creating the funding."

According to the MSUM plan, the $37 million would be donated over a span of seven years. The first $10 million would be donated in the 2011-12 fiscal year with another $10 million collected in 2012-13.


A combined $12 million would be donated in 2013-14 and 2014-15, the projected first two playing seasons. The final $5 million would collected over the next three years.

Two years to prepare

MSUM's goal is to launch a program in 2013-14. For that to happen, Peters said the university would need to hire head coaches by the end of this school year.

"In order to be able to drop the puck in 2013-14, we are going to need to be able to hire our coaches this spring," he said.

Both men's and women's teams would have a head coach, two assistants and one hockey operations coordinator. The programs would share an equipment manager and strength and conditioning coach. The projected 2013-14 expenses for the coaching staff would be $1,054,680.

The men's head coach is slated to receive benefits of $76,000 (health, dental and retirement). Coupled with the $240,000 salary, the total cost to the school for the men's coach is slated for $316,800 in 2013-14.

The business plan also calls for the hiring of five administrative positions -- two assistant athletic directors, a ticket manager, a compliance director and a media relations assistant.

The combined annual salaries and benefits for those five positions for year one is slated to be $281,686.


The Collegiate Consulting report, which The Forum also obtained through an open records request, read like this at the end of its executive summary:

"If MSUM can successfully raise the funds needed as part of the planned hockey campaign, it is well positioned to secure conference membership. Our top line market analysis indicates that, based on the benchmarking data and comparisons, the Moorhead-Fargo community would support the programs."

MSUM paid $25,000 for the report from Collegiate Consulting, which is based in Atlanta.

"It's an outside set of eyes looking at what we are in the middle of and confirming things that we've developed and the things that we have thought," Peters said. "That we are realistic."

The school is also paying Carl Miller, the former athletic director at UND, $35,000 over nine months to be a consultant.

If MSUM can raise the $37 million, Peters thinks the Dragons would be able to find a conference home. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association is the most desirable landing spot for MSUM.

The WCHA is set to make a major overhaul in 2013-14, the year MSUM hopes to start hockey. Current WCHA members Minnesota, Wisconsin, UND, Denver, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, Colorado College and St. Cloud State are all set to move to other leagues.

"We just feel like there will be a place for us," Peters said. "There is so much change going on and it's not all done yet and there is still a lot of time before 2013-14."


Peters said there are many factors that make this the right time to start ice hockey, including a new arena (Scheels Arena), a supportive president and Fargo-Moorhead being an attractive market in a region of the country that supports hockey.

"The time is now," said Peters, reiterating his thoughts from the July news conference. "If this community is ever going to get Division I hockey, this is the best opportunity it's ever going to have."

The article is from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, like the Herald a Forum Communications Co. newspaper.

What To Read Next
Get Local