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RPI Gets Backer

Schumer Will Oppose NCAA Proposal 65

By Ken Schott

Schenectady Daily Gazette, January 8, 2004

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is getting a heavy hitter in its efforts to keep athletic scholarships for its men's hockey program.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., will hold a press conference at 12:45 p.m. today at Houston Field House to lend his support in RPI's effort to defeat Proposal 65 at the NCAA convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Proposal 65 affects eight Division III schools that play a sport at the Division I level. The proposal would eliminate the ability for those schools to offer athletic scholarships for their Division I teams.

Five of the eight schools are in New York state. Besides RPI, others are Clarkson and St. Lawrence (hockey) and Hartwick and Oneonta (soccer). The other three schools are Colorado College (hockey), Johns Hopkins (lacrosse) and Rutgers-Newark (volleyball). The vote will take place Monday morning.

RPI athletic director Ken Ralph is thrilled to have Schumer's support.

"He's concerned because five of the schools are in the state," Ralph said.

"He's actually been pretty involved. He'll check in and see how we're doing. He's doing it to show his support."

Schumer will detail his efforts to lobby the presidents and athletic directors of the 47 New York NCAA schools to oppose the measure. He will be joined at the press conference by Ralph, RPI coach Dan Fridgen, assistant coach and 1992 RPI graduate Ivan Moore, cocaptains Ben Barr and Scott Basiuk, Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian and RPI vice president of student life Eddie Knowles.

"To have [Schumer] supporting us is just outstanding," Ralph said. "It means a lot that a guy that is as busy as he is can take a little time out of his day to show some support on an issue that's very meaningful to us. We're very grateful for that."

"I don't know what the immediate impact will be because we're so close to the convention. But the people in the area will recognize [his support]. It should also make our players feel pretty good."

Vermont leaving ECAC

Three weeks after Vermont announced that it was thinking about Hockey East membership, the school will be formally accepted by the league during a press conference this morning in Burlington, Vt.

The move will begin with the 2005-06 season, and is the first significant change in the ECAC since 1991, when Union replaced Army. RPI flirted with joining Hockey East after the 1993-94 season, but remained with the ECAC.

Vermont has played hockey since 1963-64, starting at the Division II level and upgrading to Division I in 1974-75.

The Catamounts stayed with the ECAC when six schools - Boston College, Boston University, Maine, New Hampshire, Northeastern and Providence - defected to form Hockey East in 1984-85.

The ECAC hasn't announced if it plans to replace Vermont. Army, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst and Quinnipiac - all of Atlantic Hockey - have been mentioned as candidates.

Also, Niagara of College Hockey America, which is losing Findlay after the season, could be another possible replacement.

"[Vermont] has to do what they think is in the best interest of the school," Ralph said. "We'll take a look at what our lineup is. It's a great opportunity for us to take a good, hard look at ourselves."