I’m a west guy, So I’ll speak on what I know happens out here. I’d venture a guess that it more or less pertains to the other 3 regions as well.
I have it on good authority that three of the four teams representing the West Region this year in Columbus, collect player dues to operate. I am not 100% on the other so I will not speak on their behalf.
This is, in my opinion, the axiom of the ACHA. It is largely, a pay to play league, with a smattering of A+ programs that have the ability to field a team without asking their students to fund it. Those A+ programs tend to attract more players, creating more talented teams year in and year out. Success, coupled with the fact you don’t have to ask for money when everyone else does, gives the A+ programs a much more effective recruiting toolbox.
The issue here is university backing. The A+ Universities/Colleges that support their ACHA programs, tend to make sure they are organized as well as, if not better than, the rest of their athletic programs. This includes scheduling, event planning and management, crowd support, financial backing, etc.
If you would like to see more parity and a higher competition level in the ACHA across all divisions, I believe it starts by getting the universities/colleges who do have successful, grass roots programs established, on board.
It’s not as easy as you suggest but I do see that it is easier in some situations. I have first hand knowledge of McKendree’s program as my god son was a student and played hockey for McKendree. When McKendree was brought an idea of what their program could look like by their current coach; McKendree liked the opportunity and went in that direction. I know for a fact McK does not offer a “Participation Award” to students McK does however offer McKendree Grant. The McK Grant is a “need based” award in regard to the student’s financial need. I’m positive we could discuss this in circles all day but I also promise if you research the McK Grant you will see that it is awarded to all students and at similar levels no matter an athlete or not. The cost to attend McKendree is significant and at the highest grant level a student still has to pay more than $22,000 a year to attend. So, painting the picture that is is somehow easy for the hockey program is not accurate.
I agree with some of what you have posted and think the idea of the ACHA having different levels (club and non-club) is an excellent idea and one that should be explored especially due to the enormous growth of the ACHA.
NAIA NAIHA is looking for teams…
How do we, as paying members of the ACHA, voice our opinion or take action so that these fully funded programs are moved to NAIHA or a Varsity Division of the ACHA? Every year it is becoming more so two different types of playing fields and some of the traditional ACHA teams are not going to be able to keep up. What also really grinds my gears is that some of these fully funded programs then over recruit and have close to 30 players on their roster (if not more) and alot of players just end up sitting in the stands. The guys who are sitting in the stands and “drank the Kool Aid” of that program could be seeing playing time at a traditional program. These fully funded programs are pretty much operating like NCAA programs and the school expects numbers and results. They are getting both due to their ability to offer benefits above a traditional program.
I have watched this thread and heard these arguments for the last 10 years, so this is long winded. Forgive me.
-You all do realize that this is very common in other club sports throughout the country and at the NCAA level. Loyola Chicago doesn’t have the same funding as Michigan, Kansas, or Villanova - yet they chose to compete and are now in the final four of the NCAA tournament.
-I can understand your arguments to a certain extent. I think most of this conversation is probably dialed into the teams that should be competing at a lower level anyways or like many have mentioned for a very long time, restructuring all the divisions. The problem with that is there are still lots of teams that want to compete at the higher level, even without extra funding or whatever you have mentioned.
-Almost all private institutions give some form of scholarships or aid. That is how they get students to come there in the first place. You have referenced only a couple that are giving aid for participation. There is no way to police that at the unorganized ACHA level - private schools give aid for some of the most ridiculous reasons sometimes. You are so concerned about these “true” club hockey teams that you have forgotten to realize you rely on a “true” club organization to oversee and mitigate all of this.
-A lot of private schools are too small to run a club sports program separate from their athletics program. Which is why those more popular sports are being listed as club sports on an athletics website - athletics/campus recreation is essentially one department.
-The separation that you are looking for is already there. The D1 level is made up of those teams with more funding and are more competitive - with some outliers. The problem is when the ACHA doesn’t approve or push the D2 teams that have that funding and support to make the jump to D1.
-There is a very tiny percentage of teams that actually have paid-full time coaches running there programs. Probably less than .05% that is there only job. If they are coaches paid by the university, they are probably on a low stipend or also work for the university in another capacity. I know of plenty of “true” club programs that pay a coaches stipend.
-But If you and the teams you support are a “true” club team - meaning you don’t receive much of anything in terms of financial support from your university, are completely student run, the entire staff is completely volunteer, and your players pay thousands of dollars to play - by all means please look at club soccer, baseball, and ultimate frisbee - all of those club sports have varying levels of commitment and support within them and they make it through just fine.
-The NAIHA is really made up of teams that their other sports compete at the NAIA level. So it doesn’t seem likely that D1 ACHA teams and the handful of D2 ACHA teams that their university athletics compete at the D1 or D3 NCAA level would feel compelled, or be able to move into that.
-The ACHA should start approving teams to move in to the appropriate levels so the teams that are financially and supported better can recruit better kids and start getting better recognition than having to be grouped in with “true” clubs. Likewise, it levels the playing field a little for the club teams that cannot.
-The ACHA claims to have over 500 teams. I’m willing to wager that less than 10% of the men’s and women’s teams actually have fully funded programs. So stop over generalizing. This isn’t a widespread problem overtaking the under-dwellers of club hockey.
-Go to Naples with your pitchforks and crazed message board group if you want changes.