Chicago — Tennessee State University is blazing trails for Historically Black Colleges and Universities by becoming the first to implement a men’s hockey program.
The sport will start in 2024 and will highlight the university’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and expanding athletic opportunities, TSU President Glenda Glover said in a press release.
"Bringing ice hockey to Tennessee State University is a part of our continued commitment to provide our students with new opportunities and to broaden new interests in areas where they have traditionally had limited or no access," said Glover. "We appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Nashville Predators which has played a pivotal role in our decision to pursue this historic undertaking, of starting an ice hockey program at TSU, and the first for an HBCU. TSU has a tremendous legacy in athletics. Adding ice hockey to our programs will start a new chapter and build upon that legacy."
Though the hockey team will begin as a club-level program, leaders aspire to achieve NCAA Division I status for both men and women in the future. During its inaugural season, TSU will receive guidance from the NHL, the NHL Players Association, Nashville Predator and College Hockey Inc.
As that foundational work is being done, the university is also looking for a director of club hockey operations, a role responsible for fundraising, seeking corporate partnerships, recruitment and managing daily operations.
Dr. Mikki Allen, TSU director of Athletics, called the partners between the university, NHL and the Nashville Predators, unprecedented.
“Together, we celebrate the power of collaboration as we dismantle barriers, diversify the game, and propel hockey into a new era of inclusivity,” said Allen, according to MLive. “This partnership serves as a catalyst, driving change and ensuring that the game we love embraces the beauty of diversity. With Tennessee State University, the NHL, and the Nashville Predators working hand in hand, we have the potential to reshape the future of hockey and inspire generations to come. Together, we will forge a path towards a more inclusive and united hockey community.”
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett