DETROIT -- The NHL and NHL Players' Association have teamed up to help explore the feasibility of bringing NCAA Division I men's and women's hockey to Oakland University.
Using money from the industry growth fund that was negotiated as a part of the 2013 collective bargaining agreement, the League and NHLPA will fund an eight-week study to analyze one-time and annual expenses, funding opportunities, facility needs, and student and community support at Oakland.
"We don't know what the study is going to end up suggesting, but we're very excited at this possibility," Oakland athletic director Jeff Konya said Monday at a press conference at Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings, about 30 miles from the Rochester, Michigan, school. "This would be a chance to add a high-profile sport to our campus."
Konya stressed that no decisions have been made and that a start date would depend on the findings of the study.
It is an exciting possibility for the NHL and the Red Wings.
"This is something that the NHL and Red Wings definitely support," Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. "It would bring college hockey to Metro Detroit, and it would make my commute a lot shorter on scouting trips."
Oakland is the second college selected for the study, after the University of Illinois in June. Three more will follow in the program.
"The players are very excited about using this fund to help grow hockey in the United States and around the world," said NHLPA representative Chris Campoli. "Not only have we been able to introduce young children to the game, but we can use it to help build college hockey."
Oakland has had hockey programs at the club level since 1999. Its NCAA Division I teams play in the Horizon League.
If the school does add men's and women's hockey, it would be the only men's program in the Detroit area and the only women's program in the state.
"I grew up here and played all of my hockey here until it was time to go to college," said Brittany Ott, goalie for the Boston Pride of the National Women's Hockey League. "At that point, there was one Division I women's hockey program in the state, and it disbanded shortly thereafter, so I ended up at Maine.
"With a Division I program in the state, Michigan could compete with Massachusetts and Minnesota for putting out the most women's players in the country."
The closest Division I men's program to Detroit is the University of Michigan, about 45 miles away, and the nearest women's program is Ohio State University.