While one is flying high, the other is grounded. That’s the world of difference now facing student-athletes at two Connecticut higher ed institutions. Quinnipiac University’s hockey team is ranked number one in the nation, the first time that’s happened for a team from the Hamden school. Over at Manchester Community College, officials have announced plans to eliminate all sports at the school, due to budgetary cutbacks, abruptly ending the collegiate sports careers – and possibly the college attendance – for student athletes in soccer and basketball. Baseball was eliminated earlier this decade. Quinnipiac was just voted atop the USCHO.com poll on Monday for the fourth successive week, according to The New Haven Register. The USCHO.com Division I Men’s Poll consists of 50 voters, including 28 coaches from the Division I conferences and 22 beat writers and sports professionals from across the country.
The Bobcats (24-5-5) received 36 of 50 first-place votes to keep them ahead of No. 2 Minnesota, which had 12 first-place votes. The nationally-ranked No. 1 Quinnipiac team defeated No. 18 Dartmouth, 4-1, in its final regular-season game of the 2012-13 season. Quinnipiac improves to 24-5-5 overall and will finish the ECAC Hockey regular season at 17-2-3. The Bobcats were 11-0-0 against ranked opponents for the year.
In Manchester, college President Gena Glickman told The Hartford Courant that the athletic program costs the school about $370,000 - at a time when hard decisions and cuts need to be made. While announcing plans to eliminate the sports program, she acknowledged that some students who would otherwise not attend college do so because of the athletic opportunities, and have a high rate of academic success, with many continuing on with their education after earning their Associate’s degree.
Men's soccer coach Darren Foster said that he would not be where he is now without having attended Manchester CC, after his military service in Afghanistan. Athletic director Cynthia Washburne attended MCC for a semester in 1981 before going on to play softball at Eastern.
No word on whether the funds can be located – or donated from an outside benefactor – to reverse the decision and keep the programs alive at MCC for at least another year. Such a rescue appears unlikely. Of Connecticut's 12 community colleges, only New Haven's Gateway Community College is slated to offer sports next year, even though education officials acknowledge that athletics is a way in to higher education for some students - students who might not otherwise pursue college. .
After winning its first Cleary Cup, for the ECAC Hockey Regular-Season Championship, two weeks ago, Quinnipiac earned the top seed and a first-round bye in the ECAC Hockey Tournament. The Bobcats will host an ECAC Hockey Tournament Quarterfinals series on Mar. 15-17.
The thinner ice, it turns out, is in Manchester. In Hamden, there’s solid ground.