Senior Ben Welch’s game-winning goal over Fredonia State clinched Fairfield’s first-ever berth in the ACHA National Tournament. Despite the team’s success, the question still remains if it will lead to the team to the varsity level once again.

Club hockey, once a varsity sport, is now part of Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference (MCHC). The school clinched a berth in the ACHA National Tournament, after upsetting third-ranked Fredonia State, 3-2, in the second game of the ACHA Atlantic Regional Tournament.

Fairfield then faced Hope College in the first game of the ACHA National Tournament.

The Stags lost the game 5-3, ending the team’s run at a national championship, but the season was a success and, for the past five years, the team has been competitive at the club level.

Will the team regain its varsity status because of its recent success?

The players believe so and would like to see the sport regain its varsity status some day.

“We had a varsity program five years ago and they took it away,” said forward Tom Fanning ’10. “A lot people feel that it was a mistake. The program was not run very well. We need a rink on campus to attract players and more fans. Players and fans do not want to drive about 15 minutes for a game when they can have it on campus.”

But the administration has expressed a different view.

“No [it will not become a varsity sport] because the resources would not be there for the school and the team,” said Athletic Director Gene Doris.

Doris said that the University was well behind other schools with their hockey program when it was at the varsity level. According to Doris, the University brought in a consulting group to research which sports would have the most success and be the best fit for the school.

The club hockey program was a better fit for the University’s resources. The success was not a surprise to the University as well.

Head Coach Marshall Richards has been the head coach for the past four seasons. He agreed with the idea that the club level is perfect for the hockey as of right now.

“Success is strictly for good sportsmanship, team play and to enjoy the sport at the club level,” said Richards.

The reason behind Fairfield University having limited resources for certain sports is because of NCAA regulations specified in Title IX.

Many schools are experiencing similar cuts in order for the schools to spend an equal amount of funds on female athletics as well as male athletics.

Many people have made the argument that Title IX has led to many schools to spend less money on sports that do not record nearly as much revenue as the four major sports: football, basketball, baseball and hockey.

At Fairfield, the University funds 11 female sports as compared to only nine male sports. Fairfield only funds two of the four major sports.

Fairfield also provides club sports for students who are unable to participate at the varsity level.

The school has 15 club sports. These sports include men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s rugby, baseball, and men’s volleyball.

Fairfield is not the only school that has had to cut a varsity sport because of lack of resources. Recently, Rutgers University had a similar problem.

According to Steven Williamson of Rutgers’ University newspaper The Daily Targum, Rutgers cut six varsity sports in the past year, including crew, men’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis.

The reason behind the decision shifting Rutgers’ sports from varsity to club level was major budget cuts by the University. Over the summer, $66 million budget cuts were made, causing the University to take such actions.

Many schools create a club sport with the hope that team success may ultimately lead to varsity status.

According to Braulio Perez of Washington State University’s newspaper The Daily Evergreen, students pushed for a women’s club lacrosse team. In December 2007, the women got their team after it was approved by the executive board of the Rec Center.

The team is currently considered to be a club sport. However, after a period of three years, the team may develop into a varsity team depending on its success.

“We don’t have a set policy, but it should be looked at,” said Doris.

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