GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — University of North Dakota athletic department officials said Wednesday that budget cuts ordered by the school president have forced them to eliminate three sports, including a women's hockey program loaded with Olympians.
The school also is dropping men's and women's swimming in order to meet UND President Mark Kennedy's directive to trim about $1.3 million out of athletics. The move is part of ongoing budget cuts due in large part to the state's bleak financial situation.
Athletic director Brian Faison called it a sad day and said it's an ongoing challenge to find revenue sources.
"We've had records every year in fundraising, we've had records in ticket sales, we've had records in sponsorships, but we still can't get there," he said.
The women's hockey program, which began in 2002, reached the NCAA quarterfinals two straight years when twin sisters and U.S. Olympians Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux played for the team. Eight UND players represented three countries in the 2014 Olympics.
Women's hockey coach Brian Idalski declined comment Wednesday, saying he would be busy for several days taking care of players and recruits.
Katie Million, commissioner of the women's league of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, said the announcement was "excruciatingly sad" for UND, the WCHA and the sport of women's hockey.
The two swimming programs were powerhouses at the Division II level, each winning more than 20 conference titles from the mid-80s through 2008, when the school moved to Division I athletics.
The move leaves UND athletics with 17 or 18 programs, depending on whether an effort to save men's golf is successful.