Commentary: Questions Arise with TSU’s Interest in Hockey

Tennessee State University (TSU) has been in the news a lot in 2021. Along with the school hiring former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George as their new head football coach, the school also won the recruiting battle for Hercy Miller, son of rapper/actor/entrepreneur Percy “Master P” Miller, over some Power Five (SEC, ACC, BIG 10, PAC 12, and Big 12) basketball schools. And just when you didn’t think the buzz could get any more around TSU, then comes more news.

It was announced last week that TSU is looking into the feasibility of men’s and women’s ice hockey as a sport, which would make TSU the first HBCU to have ice hockey. The news was met with excitement in some areas and confusion in others. Either way, TSU is looking into this possibility.

While it sounds good to be the first HBCU to field a men’s and women’s hockey team, there have to be some questions that immediately come to mind.

The first question that comes to mind in regards to this potential pursuit of hockey is where are they going to play? One place that comes to mind is the Centennial Sportsplex right near Centennial Park. The rink there is regulation size and should be available for them to practice and play on. The only question is where is the money coming from to pay for space or do the Predators donate the space to them?

Another question comes to mind is the travel. In hockey, there is not very many teams that play in comparison to college basketball and football. The closest team to Tennessee State would be Alabama-Huntsville. And if the Tigers were to join their league, they would have to play teams like Alaska, Alaska Anchorage, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan. Those trips would be long and if busing, that would mean multiple days being gone. That, in turn, would mean the players would miss multiple days of school to play this sport if they are taking a bus. TSU would have to add flights to their budget and for a university that needs every bit they can bring in, that isn’t exactly an expense they need to incur.

The hockey team sounds fun and good for the university, but the last and most important question about the thoughts of hockey is where does the money come from? Of course, hockey isn’t the only thing that needs money right now. Funds are needed for repairing the dorms as well as the football stadium.

One thing that is out there is the potential money the university could get from the state as a result of the findings that Tennessee withheld money from TSU for years. But even if TSU gets that money will it be enough to do the repairs to the university along with supporting a hockey program? Or do the funds come from somewhere else? Only time will tell if they decide to start a hockey program at TSU but this question will surely draw the most attention.

Hockey is definitely a whole new frontier and the Tigers are showing interest and doing their homework. While it does sound good, there are a few questions that need to be answered. This move would undoubtedly make history, but there are definitely some questions that arise with this potential move.

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