On Wednesday, Tennessee State University (TSU) announced that it will become the first Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to introduce an ice hockey program.
TSU has partnered with the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Hockey League Players Association, and the Nashville Predators to create the new program and will hold a joint news conference at Bridgestone Arena ahead of the NHL draft on Wednesday.
The university has been exploring the idea of implementing a hockey program since May 2021, when it took part in a feasibility study administered by College Hockey Inc., an entity that works to grow the collegiate game. The study was offered to see if TSU is in a position to add a hockey team.
“The idea of establishing a collegiate hockey program at TSU is a tremendous opportunity as the nation’s first HBCU to take on this endeavor,” TSU President Glenda Glover said in 2021. “This allows us to expand the sport, increase diversity, and introduce a new fan base.”
According to ESPN, the men’s team will start play as a club program in 2024 and while no timeline was given, TSU said its goal is to eventually field both a Division I men’s and women’s team.
“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,” Glover said in a statement. “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 a HBCU.”
TSU’s hockey program addition follows the recent trend of HBCUs adding new, non-traditional sports programs to their athletic department. This can be seen in Fisk University and Talladega College being the only HBCUs to offer women’s gymnastics and Morgan State University’s plans to become the only HBCU offering Division I men’s wrestling this upcoming school year.